Monday, October 31, 2011

My Dad Never Knew.... least he never said anything to me about it. It was Hallowe'en, 1944. I was sixteeen - a classic teenager - andI had gotten my driver's license a  few months before. To make matters worse, I had the night off from my movie projectionist job, which in aftertought would have been better for me to have been involved with.

Hallowe'en was big time stuff in our town. Art students from high school entered a contest involving art work on store windows. A requirement was a parade. Our town loved parades and of course parades involve the high school band. After all, the little ones in their costumes needed music to prance to. And
I was in the band. A dozen or so musicians and I played the cymbols. Holmes Hutchinson played the bass drum and Corky Hover played the snare drums. I mention these participants because they went far beyond the call of duty.

One the parade was over we headed back to where the band had formed. There, nosed in to the curb, was my father's trusty 1940 Studebaker Champion four door sedan. Suddenly "we" (I'm really not sure whose idea it was) decided that we would load the car with as many as we could - with as many band members included - AND INSTRUMENTS - and drive down Main Street to provide a second parade concert. Ready to go, with people in and outside the car, we made our way back to Main Street which meanwhile had been blocked off. Nothing ventured nothing gained, I always have said and so we drove around the sawhorses that blocked the street and created the most awful sounds you ever heard as we drove down the street a little faster the normal. Once past downtown we all had a big laugh as we parked the car and went about the normal trick or treat activities with a major focuc on upending outhouses (yes, even in town there were some outhouses waiting to be tipped over - hopefully with one more more occupants in them. All told, we felt like it had been a great evening of ghosts, goblins, and devious teenagers. We all went home tired but elated at the evenings activities.

But wait just a moment - it's not over yet. At scholl the next morning the public address system sounded of asking that certain members of the band needed to check in with the principal - and the sooner bthe better. Once gathered in the office, we were told that our presence was requested at the railroad station immediately if not sooner. This was not a good sign - the mayor of the town was one of the honchos at the station. With a certsin sense of forboding, we drove cautiously, legally to the station where we were greeted by the mayor ----  and the chief of police. The lecture seemed more directly aimed at me than at the others but we all stood there shaking in our boots. It appeard we had accomlished not just one or two infractions - but a bucketful - disturbing the peace, speeding, driving through a barricade the wrong way on a one way street and a few other charges I can't remember. Or don't want to.

With his wrath winding down, and with our apprehension growing, the mayor tuned to me and said that my father was a good man. I nodded in agreement. My dad was in the army and it was wartime and the mayor finally said  he could throw the book at me. It was serious enough that I (or we) could get acquainted with a jail cell down at Tracy Hall. The chief of police nodded as though he or one of his deputies would be happy to provide us  accommodations for the rest of our lives.

But then the mayor said, "I'm not going to tell your fathers - but do something like this again and it will not go easy on you." Chastened, we went back to school thinking that every classmate knew what we faced and we did not mess around on the streets - or even in school for some thime therafter. Interestingly, thr mayor dsaid nothing about the outhouses.

Ad as I said, I don;t think my dad ver heard the story - but now, with him heaven, I suspect he is shaking his head and saying, "What else was that boy up to that I wasn't aware of?"

By the way, in later years I got to be great friends with both the chief of police and the mayor.
Until they looked at each other, grinned, and asked, "Remember that Hallowe'en night in '44?
And I would cringe..

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mercy, Mercy, Nursey, Nursey

What does a nurse do when she gets sick? More specifically, what does a nurse who contends with asthma do when the autumn season brings on allergies beyond belief. Enough that she calls her parents to announce that the people in Urgent Care believe she should go to the hospital emergency room to see what can be done about a horrible headache, sweating, and the shakes - all of which apparently turned out to be a reaction to prescribed medication.

She's not the only one in the family who reacts to medications. Most of our children - now grown adults - have tough times when having to contend with medication. Not only them, but Joyce has unbelievable difficulty with anesthesia. I seem to be the only one who doesn't seem to react to medication (for the most part) although I had a bad scene with Percoset one time - terrible itching and it challenged me one time so that I got dizzy and fell out a bus door right square on my face.

So last night was one of the really bad times for our nurse daughter. Ordinarily she's the one who is always there with good advice and a caring nature. But this time we have discovered that she needs care, attention, and love at times herself. Independent as she is about a lot of things, this time she has felt bad enough that she has accepted parental support and encouragement willingly. And she has accepted the fact that some medicine does not settle well. To make matters worse, she is  a lot happier when she can work with her job of home care for homebound patients. She needs to work, and wants to work, but where is that dividing line where she is well enough to attend to other people.

I have a special spot in my heart for nurses - especially those in places like emergency rooms.They never really know what they will face next - nor what kind patients they will work with. Having seen some of the best of medical situations - and some of  the worst, I want to award my heroine of the week award to nurses - especially those who might end up caring for other nurses or doctors who sometimes know enough about symptoms that they may contest their care provider's diagnosis. I was particular proud of Lisa last night in the emergency room because she had a "yes, ma'am' attitude through the whole thing. But when one feels as  badly as she did last night there's not much option.

She went home last night after some corrective medication, and she has done a bit better today -
but isn't past it completely. She may be right - it may take the first covering snowfall to get rid of allergens and pollen and all that nasty stuff. I can't say I'm eager to see snow but if it makes her feel well again, it winter can't come soon enough.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Some Things Never Change

Sometimes it takes a grandchild to make me think.

Not about  campus parties, or academic achievements, or scholarship funds. Sometimes it is no morw than a book that Granddaughter Jill shared with me. A really thought provoking book entitled "Riding the Rails."

Shortly after I graduated from high school I got a job on a weekly newspaper. Early on my primatry task was editing gossip columns from small communities surrounding the home town of the newspaper.
As time passed I graduated to photographer, and sports editor, and eventually to writing feature articles.
One of my assignments had to do; with a hobo from the 1920's and '30's. Because the town I worked in was a major raailroad center at the time, it was an ideal location for hobos to congregate or switch trains. We had the Rutland Railroad to the north, Boston and Albany east and west, and the Harlem Division of the new York Central System south to New York City. Along with the migration of hobos were souvenirs they left behind. For instance, my news paper assignment was to photograph the unique initils on one particular hobo that had left his 'mark' on a grade crossing shack of the Rutland down the street from the paper. It turned out that his mark had been found in thirty-some states.

But there were other marks left by hobos. We've included a picture of some of these which indicated conditions other hobos might find in a town they stopped at. Some of the signs offered hope fo the wanderer - other reflected warnings. It all went together to remind us that hoboism was not an individual life - it was very much a community efoort where, in many cases, they helped one another in whatever ways they could.

The book I'm reading looks at transient life in a different way. I remember seeing adult hobos hirtching rides on trains when I was young. I remember my mother and grandmother warning me of "tramps" that might come to the back door. There was a fear that hobos would take off with young people, much like fear of gypsies.

However, I never syopped to think that young kids - even pre-teens - left homes to go on their own. Sometimes it was because families "couldn't afford' the children. Other times children and gteens escaped abusive home environments.It wasn't just a few - It was estimted, in 1935, that there were as many as 250,000 so-called 'wild boys' either hitch-hiking on the highways, or riding the rails, in, on, and on top, of railway boxcars. Some just followed wanderlust - other sought any kind of work in the desperate Great Depression years.  It was estimated by the Interstate Commerce Commission that, in the single year of 1932, almost six thousand  so-called trespassers were killed when riding, or trying to ride, on railroads. Of these well over 1,500 were youth under 21.

Things have changed a lot since he Great Depression. But the tragedy of the homesless continues ever today.Their modes of transporation may have changed, but the tragedy of poverty or homelessness continues. Our to picture reflects the concerns of an organization in Florida. The fact of the matter is, homelessness and 21st Century hoboism, if I can call it that, continues and probably always will be there, perhaps amplified by the challenges of today's economy. It's tragic to say the least..

Friday, October 14, 2011

Where's Flo?

Maybe you've seen it - an advertisement by Flo's favorite insurance company. I found this one in Popular Mechanics and I saw a couple of different ads like it in a doctor's waiting room. The thought was the same: in every ad you were asked to see if you could pick out Flo from a picture of a large crowd. Try as best I could, I never found her and I venture you might have a problem yourself.

It's something like a 'Where's Waldo' event within our family circle this past week. Our grandson Keith is in the Army and he was granted a leave to come home for a while from a deployment in Afghanistan. Nobody seemed to know when he was to leave and when he DID leave where he was. So, we watched a bunch of exchanges on Facebook asking 'where's Waldo?', or more accurately, 'Where's Bubba?'

Well, Keith finally showed up in Dallas, Texas and eventually got home to the Seattle area a few hours later. It took him three days to make it back from Afghanistan. I hope those three days were not chargeable to leave - and I hope the time going back is not chargeable either - that would make for a short visit home.

More personally, it's like my closet. The closet that Joyce would like to empty out. Or even more, the workshop I used to have. She'd ask when I was going to get rid of some of that 'stuff' and I'd say, 'One never knows when you might need that piece of wire, or when that old battered knob would fit on a door.' Now that I think of it, why did I keep the old hard drive from a computer that died years ago? It's just the old idea that someday that may have a use - but keeping a hard drive that doesn't work - or whatever?

Or the 'man thing' when I come into the living room and ask if Joyce knows where an object is. 'It's probably in the storeroom,' she suggests. But where? What box is it in? Or could it have been left somewhere we used to live? Or could it have been thrown out? Or sold in a yard sale? (Our children are still talking about a yard sale over thirty years ago where they say I was willing to sell anything or everything for a price - maybe including pets or kids.)

So, a year after our last move I still play 'Where's Flo', or 'Where's Waldo" from time to time. And like the picture above, where I couldn't find Flo, there are still things around the house that I can't find.
And is it even important anymore?

Well, as far as Bubba is concerned, it was worth the wait to know he was back in civilization and that he was no longer lost in the crowd. Some treasures pop up eventually and the make the finding a special event.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Last Rites

I'm going through a loss in the family. A death if you want to call it that. Or maybe a partial death.

My trusty computer began to exhibit some strange quirks a few weeks ago and it proceeded to get worse.
To begin with, it began to feel a bit warm to the left of the touch pad. Then it would sign itself off of its own accord right in the middle of some procedure. Finally, the screen would come on and then go blank and eventually (finally finally) the screen wouldn't come on at all. My favorite computer guru pronounced that the computer had an incurable malady and there fore it was time for last rites on that one and off to the computer store for a new one with all the upgraded goodies. Not only am I trying to get used to the new programs and operating system, I have been struggling to transfer what I can of material from the old computer to the new one. I'm not done in that department and I expect to hav it all done by 2014. if the wind is in my favor. And to top all of that, the new confuser has a different keyboard which is an interesting experience for someone who types with two or three fingers and two thumbs.

I got to thinking about my experience with computers. I started with a Radio Shack TRS-something or other
back in 1983. I can't remember whether its capacity was in kb's or mb's but I'm sure in was kilo's - not much memory but enough that I could learn programming in Basic. Plus, it used a small cassette recorder.
A year or so later I was transferred and that church had early Apple computers - not Macintosh but enough that I could write stuff with it.(I looked at Macs, but they were too much for my wallet)

When we moved to Winter Park, Florida, the Chairman of the Trustees (through the church) gave me an early PC computer with twenty megs of memory. He claimed that it would simplify my writing and I found that it shortened to time to edit stuff I wrote and I went through a true computer conversion experience. As the years passed I climbed the computer ladder - my first Windows unit, to Windows 95 and 98, eventually to Windows XP an now Windows seven. With each upgrade the computer memory capacity made quantum leaps and so in thirty years my memory capacity has gone from 30 or so KB through a couple hundred of so Megabytes on up to 150 gigabytes and now its almost 500 gigabytes (whatever gigabytes are) Too bad my brain memory system has been downgraded every time the computer memory went up - it isn't fun to get old.

They say that one can always learn something new - and I'm working at that. Meanwhile, you can notice in the picture that my touch pad was well-worn. But there are enough good parts (I think) in the oldtimer to keep Joyce's identical computer going for a while. At least I hope so.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fall Again

We just got back from a quick trip up north to Michigan and we discovered that it is fall up there where it is ALMOST fall here in Indy. Not quite peak color where we were, but enough to remind us that summer has pretty well given up for this year.

We left Indianapolis at around 11 am last Monday and got to Tawas City on the shores of Lake Huron around five in the afternoon. In the process we checked our gas mileage and found that it took 342 miles to Bay City and it took 10 1/2 gallons of gas to top the car off. Figured out to almost 33 miles to the gallon. Love that Dodge Caliber. They can say what the want about all the other cars but that Caliber (bought in 2008) was great before all the rest of the economy cars started tooting their horns.

Had a nice visit with one of Joyce's sisters and her husband - they were in the process of packing up for a move back down to the Detroit area. us, have a lot of mixed emotions about leaving the northland. It's a really beautiful area and very peaceful. Living in Oscoda was life ath its best. However, as the years piled up, I guess we all found it to be more condusive to good health to be closer much closer to civilization, and in my case, closer to medical care. Not that it wasn't adequate 'upnorth', but a lot of times we had to drive 75 miles or more for significant and specialized care. So, I love the convenience of the city, but I also loved country living and country folk when we were up there. As you can see from some of the photos, it's beautiful country, a great place to enjoy the best things nature has to offer.

One thing we did was to walk down well over 300 steps to see the shoreline of Foote Pond and Iargo Springs. It's a beautiful spot - I had been down there a few years ago. But this time Joyce could go down with me (her knee replacements made this possible)). She loved it as much as I did except that both of us came to the conclusion that it may have been 300 or so steps down but it felt like 700 or more coming back up. If anybody ever wants a natural stress test, that's the way to do it. And at our ages we were amazed not to have any aches and pains when we got done.

I hope you enjoy these pictures. They don't do justice to what they call "Pure Michigan". Try a trip 'up north'sometime - you'll like it there.

Meanwhile, I don't want to sell Indiana short either. We went to Brown County State Park yesterday and it is beautiful as well. And before I get a reminder from our Seattle area son,

I want to remind the world that the State of Washington is fantastic as well. So is Oregon - and Nevada - and Colorado. Yep - I guess there is beauty all over - if you only take the time to look around you.