Not only am I in a ” basket” (Thanks Hillary),  I’m in a mess.

I’ve been without the steadying hand of my wife, Pat for a couple of years now, so sometimes I get out of hand. (I do miss her daily)  I live with my loving daughter and my kind and generous  son-in-law in Houston.  All’s well and will be well, except, but, golly gee, this darn crazy political year has found us in opposing thought and on opposite sides.  They are younger with sharper minds and yes,  probably more intelligent than mine. Frankly going on age 87,  I can hardly remember the next word I want to use.  I can’t begin to compete with them  coherently.  My daughter insists that I no longer hold the political values that she remembers growing up with.  Plus I have been provided with an I-pad by them and my also loving son and daughter-in-law. That led to “facebook” where I have found a whole bunch of friends and relatives not seen in many years, and gobs of former students whom I fondly remember.  I taught Am. Government and did some coaching (Wrestling and Football, and for crying out loud, it can’t be too hard to know you stand for Old Glory and the National Anthem).  Anyway my friends are all over the place in this 2016 election, and I don’t really want to offend anyone.  Generally, I have tried to avoid commenting on politics and religion.  (A former student posted recently [Jesus is Coming. I hope he gets here before the election].  Count me in on that one.) I’m not void of thought, but that has been why I have avoided political comments.  I notice a few more creeping in though.

Please let me feel a little bit good about myself to my daughter and yesteryear students.  I may have been successful or unsuccessful, that’s for others to decide, but I never intended to tell anyone what to think but that you should think and why you should think and to get involved in the process.  I think I may have had some success, dear disappointed daughter and  confused students who would have perhaps thought my personal election choices would be different.  The results comfort me as I see my children and former students thinking and engaged in the process.

Before explaining my present political preferences, I ask forgiveness and tolerance for poor grammar, punctuation, and writing skills, daughter, Julie and the  best Indian Hills English and Lit. instructor ever, Rhonda Simmons Eakins, Educator, Kay Bond Wall, Nurses, Welders, etc., plus any and all of you whom I missed that may have become teachers and all of you who write and express yourselves better than me. I have thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with all, and seeing your families, and hearing of your careers and activities. (Even though it is most unlikely that anyone will ever read this)

I grew up in a Conservative, Republican family with the world in a Depression, followed by World War II.  Then after a couple of years of college, and a new war in Korea, I found myself in the Navy for four years.  (Best job I ever had, and always regretted not making it a career.) A few years and several changes of jobs and entrepreneurial efforts led me back to finish my college education.  Suddenly, like others, I was influenced by a new wave of Liberal thought.  Yes, I became a Democrat.

So my teaching days were dominated by a combination of belief in social obligations and responsibilities to citizens, by our government, as well as a respect for the great achievements by industry, agriculture and small business brought about by Capitalism.  I still believe, Socialism or any form of government is acceptable as long as  the people have a democratic  system in which they can  end it or choose the direction they wish to go.  If its broke, change it, if it works, don’t fix it.  After leaving teaching, I was engaged in owning and operating various small businesses mostly marginally successful.  I could be more specific but basically, I was in the real world again and yeah, more conservative.

 I no longer care about Republicans or Democrats, Conservatives or Liberals.  For thirty years they both are filled with professional hacks with the same old tax and spend policies that have decimated our economy.  Hillary has her own bag or “basket” of proposals that only take us farther down the tube with no way out

President Obama seems like a real nice man, but I am unimpressed with his accomplishments while President.  ObamaCare has given a few uninsurables a chance at insurance  if they can afford it.  Elsewhere it seems to be not working so well.  Foreign policy is a mess. Syria, Turkey, Iraq. and the Iranian fiasco, the whole Middle East,  North Africa, Eastern Europe, North Korea, etc.!  Where is the success.  A few less American troops in combat, but hundreds of thousands dead or displaced by ISIS or who knows,… which has brought about the immigration crisis in Europe and soon U.S. He has been insulted and embarrassed around the world, most recently in China (made to exit by the rear of the plane) and (called a s.o.b by the President of Philippines).  Racial relations are worse than when he took office.  He used a welcoming occasion for the President of Singapore to trash a political opponent, embarrassing his guest. Trade deficits are off the chart.  There are well paying jobs for some.  Poor average Joan or Joe hasn’t had a raise in 15 years.  Most have quit looking for work which makes the employment figures look better.  I think most will accept legal immigration.  Just enforce the law. I’ll think of a dozen more when I quit writing.   Increased taxing on more corporations driving them out of the country won’t fix it.  Hillary is too closely tied to these failed policies to consider her an option for me.

Hillary has suggested nothing much except more of the same. Then there are the lies and confusion surrounding Hillary and all the investigations of her, as Sec. of State, the emails, and the Foundation.  Worse for me is her “hate Trump” diatribe, and the expression of contempt for his followers that is supposed to result in “together a stronger America”.

As for Trump, we might have done better.  I wish he hadn’t made derogative statements of John McCain, former and current Presidents, and opposing primary nominees.  He has been consistent in making outlandish mistakes.  As a forgiver, I can attribute  his weaknesses to not being a professional forever politician. Frankly that may well be what I and others have found intriguing.  Yes I’m warming to his candidacy.  Really, I don’t see him as a Republican or even a Democrat (which he has been), Conservative or a Liberal.  That could make him acceptable to a lot of people.  The middle is not the worst place to be.  “Free trade is a slogan, not a reality”. Fair free trade sounds like something to reach for. I want jobs for people.  I want responsibility  toward the national debt.  How can you fault him for wanting to apply the law, in regard to immigration.  I want to restore our military and provide for those who serve.  Its jobs, jobs, jobs.  Good for men, good for women, good for college grads, good for Unions, good for minorities, legal (and illegals as long as they’re here), good for retirees depending on workers to keep Soc. Sec. viable.  And for heavens sake, in comparing Donald to Hillary, well for me,  I’ll take Trump every time to make this a better , safer country.  He has a lot of rough edges.  Some people want apologies and you don’t get many from Mr. Trump.  I just want solutions.

With macular degeneration, poor typing skills, a warped mind, and a weak bladder, it has taken a long time to write this (two days).  I don’t feel like a racist, bigot, everything phobic, deplorable. Hillary said only half were in her basket and then said, she shouldn’t have said half.  I think she meant all.  I don’t feel like a bad person…. but, having already been labeled as “white trash” for complaining about one’s malicious untrue charges  against Candidate Trump, and now labeled as a  Deplorable, I will have to accept whatever comes down.

Now you know!  Sorry to all on the other side and if Jesus doesn’t get here in time, I do hope we can still be friends.  I will be voting for Trump,….. if I don’t vote for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian or Jill Stein of the Greens.  And, Steve, Julie, and good friend Jim Mahan, as well as, long ago friend, Stacey, I will respect & honor Hillary Clinton if she becomes our next President.

Love ya’ll,












Des Moines Mayor’s Conference on Climate Change.

Concerning Mayor Cownie’s statement. —-  Page 1A D.M. Register on Tues. May 13, 2014.  Expressing great satisfaction regarding a coming scheduled Panel on Climate Change, the Register quotes the Mayor.  Cownie said: “ Humans are causing the planet to warm.  And it is expected to continue without action.”

There you have it.  The Mayor has it right on.  Humans are the cause.  I wasn’t invited to the conference, however I offer my unscientific solution.  Reduce the human population.  And now, some possible suggestions where to begin.

  1.  Most, but maybe not all Lawyers.
  2.  Congress and why not all, well maybe not all, Politicians Federal, State and City.
  3.  Anyone with an annual income of over a million dollars annually. (Who can’t live on a million bucks a year)  We can discuss accumulated net worth later.
  4.  Old people.  No need for anyone over 80.  (Can easily change this to a lower age, perhaps to include anyone drawing Social Security or using MediCare.)  Think of the benefits resulting from this alone.  Not only will it help save the planet, but could actually help save the country from economic demise.  We might even be able to honor our commitments to our Veterans.

Regarding those drawing Social Security, did I mention that I am 84 years old.  Of course I will step up willingly, but reserve the right to whimper.  That much at least.

  1.  Many but not all people who do research and development of things that result in living longer.  We could add others who create new things and ideas that eliminate jobs, such as robots doing things humans used to do. (Might help the economy, but not the life of glaciers or Polar Bears, and butterflies)
  2.  Most but not all Republicans.  Often considered not smart enough to understand what is best for the country.
  3.  Most but not all Democrats.  Often considered wanting only that which someone else will pay for.
  4.  All, Over Zealous Conservatives and Liberals.  (Could include Limbaugh, and many College and University Professors.
  5.  Some but not all Farmers that don’t shape up, concerning soil abuse and water pollution.
  6.  Some but not all city folks who complain about farmers, but do the same thing in town. Too much waste, overloading the landfills, and running all those air polluting lawn mowers, blowers, trimmers, etc.

Golly!  The possibilities are endless.  We could bring back tobacco and Coal, both of which helped keep the population in check. And If we can eliminate half the population, I would expect some improvement in the area of global climate change, at least in the short term.  As science has already presented, many things occur over very long periods.  ( ice ages,  continental drift, etc.)  In the short term, it is reported that solar storms, sun wobbles, and other activities on Earth like volcanic activity could affect climate change.

Of course we haven’t mentioned the necessary need of international acceptance and participation in addressing Climate Change particularly with the Human reduction solution.  Also, there is the suggestion offered by one Presidential hopeful that he recognizes Climate Change but doubts any law offered thus far, would do anything for the climate, but could harm the economy.  He may well, have a thought, not as ridiculous as some would have us think.

I too, have a thermometer and rain gauge along with a wet basement at times.  Therefore I also recognize climate change.  I remember also the dust bowl, the heat and drought, as well as the bitter cold and deep snows of the Nineteen Thirties.  Also remembered, are the floods of 1947, countless hurricanes, and other notable weather events.  I even remember walking   to school in all kinds of inclement weather. (Okay, so I lived across the street from the school)

It does appear that these extremes are happening more frequently.  Thus, the need for all of us to do whatever we can to improve the situation is obvious.  We can continue developing alternative energy, but with the masses depending on the most available energy sources, it hardly seems realistic to destroy the fossil fuel industries that we have come to depend on.

Bless President Eisenhower and the Interstate Highway system, but development of an efficient public transportation system might have been a better way to go.   So without two or three cars in every driveway, and without millions of trucks running every direction, many things might have been different and other problems created.  Who knows?

Returning to the original statement of the well intentioned Mayor, humans are the problem. Yes, they are.  Good luck in getting the climate changed with conferences, new laws, etc., but B+ for trying.  There are just too many humans and they most likely aren’t going away.  Did I mention that 84 year old minds can be less than stellar?

“We’re from Iowa. and we don’t care about no damn polls.”

Now I know I said I was done “bloggin” and here I am again. Will quit again as soon as I’m done not quittin’ unless I decide to not quit again, but probably won’t. I just wanted to wrap up the Iowa Caucus.

At last, the end of the robo calls – hopefully. The last one, 30 min. before the scheduled time of the Caucus, informed us that there was still time to stop Romney.

As you know, it was a photo finish with Romney winning Iowa by 8 votes over Rick Santorum. In Wapello County,(our county) Romney finished 5th behind:
Santorum 199
Ron Paul 196
Newt 152
Rick Perry 119
Romney 103
Bachmann 74
Huntsman 8
Palin 2 (write ins)
Now there usually aren’t that many Republicans in Wapello County so the answer is, because we allow anyone to re-register anywhere, anytime, Dems and Independents probably decided the results.

The Iowa caucus results are not always very reliable in either party. Iowa Dems of course put Obama in the drivers seat 4 years ago..(“How’s that workin’ out for ya?” as Sarah Palin might say). In Wapello County (4 years ago) I caucused with the Biden Group..(how’s that workin’ out for ya?) in which Wapello went overwhelmingly for John Edwards (remember him?), Hillary was a distant second, and Obama a far distant third. Me and the other guy in the Biden Group finally moved into the Hillary bunch as less than 15% would be classed as un-committed, elgible for “committment” I guess. As it turned out we sort of got a sort of “half President” when Obama selected Biden as his Veep.

Republicans, 4 years ago went for Huckabee, as McCain was no where to be seen, having voted against Corn for gas. After last night, Perry says he will go home to reassess, having spent $400 per vote received in Iowa (about 5 million for 12,600 votes) Bachmann held a press conference and dropped out of the race. Romney flies to New Hampshire and Santorum (having spent $19.00 per vote received) will presumably drive to N.H. in his dust covered pickup to champion a reason to go to war with Iran, likely to a less than enthusiastic electorate. Ron Paul, — who knows? (makes a lot of sense most of the time) but ???. Newt will pout and complain (with reason) about the negative treatment received in Iowa. Romney, Perry, Bachmann, and especially Paul, plus a lot of money for ads coming from nobody knows where and claimed by no one, and denied by everyone, destroyed Newt. Some of the ads were generated by Super Pac money (sometimes maybe Democrat funded) which our “wise Supreme Court” has said is perfectly fine (free speech, don’t ya know?).

Guess that about does it for the Iowa Republican Caucus. I didn’t participate in the Democratic Caucus, but hear that no one objected to Obama being the Nominee. I find myself longing for the old days when the National Political Conventions selected the candidates in a smoke filled room 3 or 4 months before the November election. The results seemed just as good or better than the current circus like process. (and a hell of a lot cheaper and a lot fewer nuisance phone calls).

Most of the (mostly ill informed) folks are all livin’ off the government with some kind of assistance or have one of the only jobs available anymore (government [state or national] jobs). No need to upset the apple cart or stop the gravy train with such nonsense as a “financially sound government.” No need to look out for yourself when government help is always near by. After all, its Mayan 2012 and we all know what might happen in Myan 2012.

Not much else happening around here. Kind of exciting finding a coupon in the paper for a special offer for Men’s Depends. As the coupon would result in substantial savings, I just had to take advantage. The order was placed and shortly I received an email thanking me for the purchase and advising me that I could track the shipment by Fedex with a special link provided. (Sometimes around here, one can track my underwear even without a link to Fedex) Anyway I will be anxiously tracking and awaiting my underwear shipment. I think I can almost hear a muffled chuckle from daughter Julie at my revealing this excitement. Son Tim may be a little embarrassed. But be sure, good wife Pat will be mad as a little wet hen when she reads the details. (“You don’t need to tell people that!”) Aside from that, she and I will celebrate 61 years of marriage on Friday Jan. 6, 2012.(Not too bad) After seeing a notation on the calendar, I finally realized why she wanted to dine out on Friday.

Yes, I have definitely decided that I will quit blogging unless I decide differently. For sure, I don’t Twitter, Tweet or do Facebook and that’s not likely to change unless it does, but don’t think it will for now anyway.

Looking for and hoping for 62 years with my happy and cheerful bride. Bye — for now at least.

Oh My!

Goodness, I see that I haven’t posted for a full year.  My last, was to acknowledge my dear daughter’s birthday one year ago.  I am terribly afraid that I just might have to offer a repeat of last years thoughts.  Apparently,  I failed to recognize, son Tim’s birthday, good wife Pat’s, all the son’s and daughter’s in-law, and a bunch of grandkids, and others as well.  Not doing so pretty well am I.   It had been so long that I had even forgotten just how to get something posted.  I think I finally have made it, even though it is not much of an offering.  Seems I’m pretty much out of the blogging business.  Guess a phone call will have to suffice.  I love you all, but today (Feb. 25th) is Julie’s Day.  Happy Birthday sweetie.


Dear Julie,

My artistic, graphic, and photo skills aren’t so great, so I’ll just use a few words to say:

Happy Birthday to the nice lady who never forgets the rest of us on our birthday, anniversary, or special occasion.  Enjoy your day.  You are, of course, my favorite daughter.

Love, Dad

Gee, we voted for “change” and had no idea of the benefits that would result.  Initially, there was no better time for change as the entire world accepted the fact that all hate could be centered on the one man who was responsible for every evil deed ever done, GW Bush of course.  True also, we had been governed by an inept and irresponsible Congress containing Republicans, who indeed had long abandoned the principles of the party and any semblance of regulation.  Never fear.  The Lone Ranger was near.

Now we could forever negotiate peace.  No need for bad War.  Those funds could be used to repay those who supported and loved the new change.  Well, maybe there was a little matter to settle, in the good war in Afghanistan, or Pakistan, Iran, South Korea, or wherever.  Aw heck, 911 was a long time ago.  We don’t have the stomach for war anymore and certainly wouldn’t want to pay for it or accept the draft so that the same warriors don’t have to go over and over.   Such an inconvenience.  Never mind.  The real war to be fought is for Universal Health Care, Climate change, Transparency in government, defeating Capitalism where ever it exists or shows its head, particularly if it is a financial institution or insurance company.  Oh, there are scores of other issues to be solved like the auto industry and business that left the country for some reason or other, maybe including unsustainable pay benefits.  Those Capitalists, all they think of is profit.  We can overlook the fact that some way, we have become a rather great country with a fair amount of a standard of living that seems to have more people wanting to come in, than wanting to get out.  Just the ones who have taken advantage of  the rest of us and made all those gobs of money, decide to live on the Riviera or someplace safely away from Uncle Sam.

 I seem to be rambling incoherently, so will continue with incoherence.  As I understand it,  the world was crashing because of the stupid Bankers and something called the Sub-prime debacle.  Our new President and newly elected Congress with power to do anything was finally able to make the correction.  We have been advised that the big banks and AIG Insurance company were responsible because of GW Bush of course.  But they were also our only salvation, so the Government would have to “bail” them out.  The problem seemed to be that the government by nature, has no money, but they do have the power to steal (oh, I mean get)  it from the people.  So far we have been able to get about 90% or so of what they get, from the people who have money because they stole it (I mean got it) from the people they underpaid while providing jobs for them, or cheating the people they deal with. The rest of it came from the better paid employees and small business owners who for the most part seem to be living pretty good and all want to eat out on Friday night and make it hard to get into Applebees.  Then there is a pretty good number who seem to be living okay but pay no taxes, like me and good wife Pat even though we use nearly all the services of government, including the nice check we get each month from Social Security and Medicare.  Next, there seems to be quite a few who don’t have jobs but would like one and would willingly pay taxes and buy health insurance if they had one.  Finally there is a bunch that can’t work through no fault of their own and need help.  And second finally are the derelicts who wouldn’t work if it were offered and will never contribute anything.  The realization is that with all the money the government gets, it still isn’t enough and they speak of trillions of dollars of debt. (that’s a bunch of zero’s).  Never mind.  Problem solved.  Pay the bankers billions or trillions of the debt money.  The President and Congress with all its power has stood up to them with the condition that we be allowed to call them “fat cats and scumbags” and can denounce their obscene salaries.  After that they will be allowed to repay the bail out money, restore the obscene salaries, and resume the still unregulated practices that nearly brought us down.  One has to assume that we will be revisiting this problem.

Now we all know that there is a problem with health care and the President has resolved to correct this problem and appears on the edge of complete success.  If you have ever had to deal with an insurance company over a claim you darn well know what he means.  Not just health but any kind of insurance.  Those rascals are hard to deal with.  If you are prone to too many accidents, forget it.  If your home sits on a river bank that floods every spring, forget it.  Pre-existing health conditions, forget it.  We are told there were 30 million people without health insurance.  Perhaps either they had pre-existing problems, they couldn’t afford it or just didn’t want it till they got sick or hurt.  Then it became a pre-existing condition.  Anyway the first thought, and I concur, was to establish a single payer, public option which would eventually drive out the evil insurance companies.  I am concerned however with what we are to do with all those working in the health insurance industry and concern over the fact that the Post Office and Amtrak are not resounding examples of government managed financial success.  Not to mention the fraud and corruption and unsustainable coverage with Medicare and Medicaid.  However Medicare has worked well for us.  Seems like it would make sense to go after the existing fraud, adjust the premiums if necessary and keep it for us and all those who come after.  Nearly everyone not destined to have an early death will grow old with a reduced income.  The advisability of having everyone living such extended lives and figuring out how to care for everyone is a topic for another time.  May be time to bring back tobacco, and coal furnaces.

 Again our new President and Congress with the power to do anything has stood up to the evil insurance companies.  We have promised each Senator and Congressperson millions to billions for their vote on the Health Bill to spend as they see fit within their state in the hope that the electorate will notice and send them back to Congress.  The Insurance Companies are to be allowed to stay in business.  Their commuted sentence is that again we will be allowed to trash them by calling them “fat cats and scumbags”.  Thereafter, if they promise to do better about the denial of pre-existing condition coverage, they will be allowed to get the rewards of about another 15-20 million new customers, all of which apparently would result in extremely profitable situations and the company’s stock can rise to the moon.  For some reason they now say there still will be 15 million without insurance.  Never mind. We have stood up to them and demanded they do better.  They no longer laugh out loud at us, but are forced to “snigger” smugly on their way to the evil bank.  Aside, the best solution I have heard is to make the Insurance Companies regulated utilities and then regulate the hell out of them.  That might have been done with an 8 or 10 page explanation instead of 3000 pages with 160 new agencies and heaven knows what.  Did I mention that the only money the government has is what they get from its citizens and adding millions of people and benefits can become costly.

Next comes those pesky carbon foot prints.  This will be the most vexing, most expensive and job threatening issue at least in the beginning.  We have put off energy and environmental issues for 50 years.  This appears to be a means to transfer the nation’s wealth to the rest of the world and a gigantic step towards moving to a more just socialistic society within the world.  I don’t want to sound too anti-socialist.  We have become what we are because of democracy and capitalism through decades of trial and error.  However one easily sees the inequities of wealth and greed without regulation.  Regulation and or socialistic controls can make it more fair for everybody.  But overdo it and we become lethargic, lazy, selfish and finally reduced to nothing more than a post-soviet like society.  While I believe we need to reasonably protect the environment, switch to alternative energy and do whatever it takes to preserve the economic well-being, I am a skeptic as to what can be done to change the climate.  Until we figure out how to control Sun spots, storms originating on the Sun, or elsewhere in the universe, controlling the persistent wobble of the earth on its axis, magnetic concerns, etc., I fear we cannot prevent whatever is to happen to earth when the time comes.  Moving to another planet may be less of a problem than preventing the destruction of earth at some point in time (way beyond our time, I hope),  2012 be damned.

 About those lobbyists, all 68 per person in Congress.  Looks like we dealt with them also. Wouldn’t want to enable all those companies to compete across state lines and perhaps bring down premiums.  Wouldn’t want to deal with Tort reform.  Best way to handle those bastard lobbyists is to just ignore them.  After all, what’s wrong with taking their money.  When they don’t have any left, we will have them right where we want them.  Campaign reform.  Same solution.  Make the promises of reform and get on to more important issues, like my long desire to abolish the Republican Party.  After all there are two or more registered Democrats to every registered Republican.  So, who needs them.  They can be Democrats like the rest of us.  Inter-party squabbles could be lots more fun.  Or help stamp out handicapped parking.  Make em walk like the rest of us. 

“Aint change wonderful”.  Have a good day!  Let’s go make fun of Sarah Palin or Joe Biden.



Charles M. Province, a veteran of the US Army, is the sole and single Founder and President of The George S. Patton, Jr. Historical Society. He is the author of “The Unknown Patton”, “Patton’s Third Army”, “Patton’s One-Minute Messages”, and numerous other War writings.

This poem appeared in today’s (Veteran’s Day) newspaper and the word Soldier had been replaced with the word Veteran.  Guess it works either way.

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

©Copyright 1970, 2005 by Charles M. Province

Thanks to all Veterans and to all members of today’s Military from a proud Veteran of the U.S. Navy Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor,  ComSubPac, 1951-1955.

At the request of daughter Julie, the following is my recollection of the summer of 1946…

It was the “Best of Times”

The “Worst of Times” had ended several months before with the ending of World War II, but the transition of a 100-percent war and defense economy to a civilian economy would be painfully slow. Men and women of the military were returning home and factories had to be closed to restructure themselves for production of civilian goods that had not been available for over five years. There had been no new autos, washing machines, refrigerators, etc. built since the end of 1941. Nothing but food and essentials had been available and most of those were either substitutes or synthetics. Unemployment was extremely high, and there was great labor unrest as job selection and wages had been frozen during the war and many unions were threatening strike. Shortages were the order of the day and lots of rationing of food, gas, tires, clothing remained; however ,there was expected improvement coming and a pent up demand and desire to shed the concerns of the war and return to normal times.

Amidst the confusion, I still was a somewhat rebellious teenager experiencing the usual conflict with parental rules and regulations. Older siblings were either in the Service or away at college and I was the only child remaining in our home. I felt that my parents were a little more strict than most of my friends’ parents. I am sure I made life a little more than miserable for them and perhaps that was the reason they agreed when I asked permission to work somewhere out of town during the summer following my sophomore year of high school.

As it turned out, the family of one of my friends had moved from Iowa to Oregon before his senior year and he remained in our hometown of Mount Ayr, Iowa to finish school. Our families belonged to the same church, and were good friends for many years. Don planned to join his family in Oregon upon graduation in May of 1946, and between the two of us ,we decided that hitchhiking on the “open road” would be the very best way for him to get there — and of course I was looking for an escape and might as well join him. My friend was 18, but in reality, I appeared to be the older of the two of us.

The Great Day Arrived

The last day of school in late May 1946, was met by an unseasonable cold, snowy day. That should have told us something. After receiving our final report cards, Mother reluctantly drove us to Creston to have the advantage of a slightly busier highway. This was long before Interstates The highways throughout the United States were narrow two-lane highways, and the preferred mode of travel was by train or bus. The newest vehicle on the road was a 1941 or older model except for a few WWII Jeeps converted for sale to the public. With gas rationing and only an occasional cabin camp to accommodate tourists, one would understand that there was little traffic except for locals moving from farm to town, a few salesmen, and a few local delivery trucks.

My father had written a letter of permission with a reference to his membership in the Masonic Order stating that any assistance to his son would be greatly appreciated. I dutifully placed it in my one small travel bag. After a few rides of a few miles each, the next ride would prove the wisdom of my father. We were picked up by an Iowa Highway Patrolman who seemed quite sure that we were runaways. Remembering the letter, I presented it to the officer who just happened to also be a Mason and was impressed with the letter. Nevertheless, he spoke on his radio to various authorities and after being convinced that we were “legals,” decided to transport us to the end of his assigned territory, our longest ride of the day. “Hitching” was not at that time considered as dangerous as it became by the mid-1950s. People were good, friendly and generous, and by nightfall we had reached Omaha, Nebraska. At that point we decided that we could afford a night bus ride to Cheyenne, Wyoming and not spend much more than we would at a hotel.

Day Two

To our surprise upon arriving in Cheyenne, the newspaper announced that there was a nationwide rail strike and there would be no trains running within the United States. Therefore, all rail passengers were dropped at the nearest bus station which meant that the already full buses were totally overwhelmed. Long lines were already in place and the overflow had joined us as hitchhikers. We found a city bus that would take us to the edge of town where we hoped to get a ride along with at least a hundred or two others hoping for the same thing.

Someone or something was in our corner that morning as a 1936 Oldsmobile drove past many “hitchers” and stopped in front of us. The driver, about 65, motioned for us to get in. In this day and age one would well imagine the worst if this were to happen. He announced that he would be going as far as Reno, Nevada, but would stop early each day enroute. We were welcome to complete that journey with him, or we could try to hitch a quicker ride if we so wished. The well dressed and very courteous man turned out to be a well-positioned Chef in a famous San Diego, California hotel. He was traveling across the nation alone and apparently we appeared to need him at that time. Our new friend was prepared for the worst, carrying spare everything, in the event of auto trouble: extra fuel, tires, automotive tools, and whatever. In addition, he had ice chests containing real butter, real sugar, bread, lunchmeat and various condiments in the event we found no restaurants in the wild west when needed. When a food establishment appeared at a needed time, we took our own butter, sugar, etc. in with us because he did not want oleo, sugar substitutes, etc. which were the order of the day because of shortages. Destination for the first night was Rock Springs, Wyoming. This meant that we would be stopping about the middle of the afternoon. We were dropped off on the highway near a cabin camp where we could stay the night. He told us that he would be at that spot by 8 a.m. and that we could ride the next day if we did not get an earlier ride.

Day Three

Of course the same conditions prevailed in Rock Springs and we gratefully accepted a ride with our new friend. As an aside event, in Rock Springs we witnessed a single coal locomotive train traveling at a high rate of speed with whistles blowing and no intent of stopping as it passed through the city. We assumed that rail traffic had resumed, only to learn that the locomotive had been stolen and for all practical purpose was a runaway train. After another day or two, President Truman seized the railways, and operated them with drafted employees or with Army personnel. Thereafter, the public transportation congestion was somewhat relieved.

Our day’s destination was to be Salt Lake City, Utah and again we were dropped off at a reasonably priced, clean tourist court, and again were told where to be if we wished to continue on with him. We were in Salt Lake by noon, and we soon decided we would just scout out the city and accept a ride with him in the morning.

Day Four

Another short drive day would take us to Elko, Nevada. We drove by the Great Salt Lake and across the Great Salt Lake Desert into the Nevada deserts. This was my first trip west of Iowa and of course I was in awe of newly seen territory, but mostly of the expanse of nothingness. We rarely saw any other traffic and can’t imagine how we expected to hitchhike across that forsaken land, but fortunately we were in good hands and were never hungry or in danger. We arrived in Elko on a Sunday and elected to go to the casinos instead of church, but we had no money for that sort of thing and of course were underage. We had already made the wise choice of sticking with the sure ride to Reno rather than attempting to proceed on our own.

Day Five

Our fifth day resulted in a change of fortune, bringing the kind of fear I had never known before. Well before reaching Reno, we came upon another vehicle driving very slowly along the shoulder with a flat tire almost to the point of driving on a bare wheel rim. Our benefactor, as mentioned previously, carried a supply of extra tires among other things and was of course, of a mind to lend a helping hand. The tireless vehicle was occupied by two men and a girl all about 25 to 30 years of age. Our friend inquired as to where they would be going. San Francisco was their destination and they indicated that they intended to drive straight through. Our good friend agreed to provide them with a tire if they would agree to take his two passengers to Sacramento where he had already determined would be our best route north to Oregon. They accepted and set about to mount and air the tire (everybody had a hand tire pump in those days). Our friend wished to spend a week or so in Reno. He provided us with some candy bars and snacks, addressed a couple of post cards to himself at his San Diego hotel, and instructed us to send them upon our safe arrival in Oregon. With that he bade us farewell.

The transfer was made with the instruction by the driver that the two of us were to sit in the front seat and one of the guys and the girl would occupy the back seat. These people were neither neat nor well dressed, and did not appear to be especially friendly. Shortly, I was tapped on the shoulder by the fellow in back and asked to reach under the front seat and hand him an item that I would find. Much to my surprise, the item was a revolver, the specifications of which I did not know. I had never held one in my hands before and I am sure that I was shaking and visibly frightened as I followed instructions.

There was little or no conversation on this trip. We passed through Reno, left the desert and begin climbing into the beautiful wooded mountains along the California, Nevada border in the Lake Tahoe area and famed Donner Pass. I had heard about the Donner Party from history and silently wondered if we would ever make it or also be eaten. Sometime in the mid afternoon with little or no traffic and passing through very few towns, we came upon a lonely, desolate mountain gas station and small cafe. We had gone through the snacks and were hoping we might stop for a bite to eat; however, an attendant filled us with gas and we were instructed to remain in the car with the girl. Our driver discreetly placed another pistol weapon in his pocket and entered the station and cafe. The other male positioned himself somewhere outside between the car and the station. Shortly, the driver ran from the station to the car and the other man leaped into the back seat. Off we went and I will never know exactly what took place inside. Free gas at least, I was sure of — and whatever else, I did not wish to know! Frightened beyond anything I had ever experienced, I fully expected to soon be pursued by California Highway Officers, a gun fight would ensue, and we all would be dead.

Down the mountain we went at a higher rate of speed than I was entirely comfortable with. Many years later as an over the road truck driver on splendid interstate highways in that area, I would learn that you descend the Pass for about 50 miles or so, all the while hoping your brakes won’t fail. However, as nightfall came, we were told that we would not arrive in Sacramento until around midnight. Also, they said the highway we wanted to go north on (Old U.S. 99) would go north from Roseville, not Sacramento, which was about 25 miles before you get to Sacramento and that was where they intended to let us out. I had never heard of Roseville and knew nothing of the area, so immediately began to feel that it was probably a remote area where we would surely be relieved of anything we had of value and then disposed of in an unfriendly ravine — or worse!

Day Six

Indeed we did arrive around midnight. Roseville turned out to be a fair-sized town and on spotting a Greyhound Bus Station, I suggested we go there for an inhabited shelter and possibly some badly needed food. Our new friends obliged without incidence, wished us well, and Don and I heaved a great sigh of relief. Counting our depleting funds, — and good fortunes upon not being slain — we determined that we had about enough to reach Oregon via Greyhound. We didn’t have quite enough for the full trip to Corvallis, but could get within about 120 miles at Roseburg, Oregon. From there we would try to hitch the rest of the way, or if that failed, we could call for someone from his family to come and get us. Arriving in Roseburg in mid afternoon, and with more traffic and frequent towns, we quickly got a series of rides to Corvallis arriving almost in time for supper, as we called it in Iowa.

The Rest of the Summer

It seems that I have told this story through the years and remember saying that we rode with the same guy for three days from Cheyenne to Reno, but as I recalled the events, it appears that we were actually with him for the better part of four days to travel a distance of about 950 miles (Good Wife Pat and I would later make that trip many times in about 18 hours with fuel and food stops included). I regret that I am no longer able to remember his name, but I would have to say that gentleman was one of those most unforgettable characters I have ever met. I did remember the hotel where he worked and attempted to contact him after entering the Navy in 1951 while training at the Navy Training Center in San Diego; however, that attempt proved unsuccessful. Also, I will not forget the other characters either. They did us no harm, but scared the bejeesies out of us!

The remainder of the summer was spent working on a farm about five miles out of Corvallis. I bought a used bicycle for about $7.00 and biked the trip daily. My employer, Mr. Grover Smith, who could have easily doubled for actor Percy Kilbride who played ‘Pa’ in all the ‘Ma and Pa Kettle’ movies, paid me the handsome salary of 75 cents per hour and I saved at least half of it. I had a room at Mrs. Giddings’ house for $4.00 per week. We grew mostly tomatoes on the farm with a hefty supply of other vegetables, and acres and acres of English walnuts — and no restrictions on the benefits of eating those healthy food items. Grover drove me over to the ocean at Newport a couple of times on weekends. I suppose there are other stories in here somewhere but this will be enough. I met numerous good people, and at the end of summer my parents and my sister Jean, home from the University for the summer, drove to Oregon and picked me up for my return trip to Iowa. My friend and co-hitcher Don, unfortunately died many years ago at an early age, so I am unable to ask him for other memorable details.

Yeah, it was pretty darn exciting for a 16-year-old kid in 1946.

Somber and emotional thoughts and feelings have dominated my weekend.  I had many eloquent thoughts racing through my mind but seem unable to put them down in writing so shouldn’t even try.  I’m sure that I reflect more on the meaning of this day in my older years than I did as a younger man.  There have been numerous wonderful tributes on TV.  I especially have been impressed with some of the Public Television presentations, particularly the annual Memorial Day Concert from Washington D.C.

Joseph Stalin reportedly once said “a million deaths is a statistic, a single death is a tragedy.”  I guess he dealt more with statistics.  This weekend we see many images of very many cemeteries in very many places with rows and rows of white stones with thousands of flags representing the ultimate sacrifice.  Each burial site represents a tragedy for the loved ones.  In addition we will be reminded of the thousands of wounded still suffering in so many instances with countless injuries and amputation, and one can only ponder, why you and not me.  Caring for them and relieving them and their families of personal financial catastrophe must be the first priority, ahead of anything and everything  including credit card relief with National Park gun privileges.

This is just me speaking but I never had much empathy for those who disagreed with their country and chose to flee or otherwise refused to serve, or chose to protest by burning the flag or draft card while upholding their rights under the Constitution.  They would as quickly burn the Constitution if they felt it denied their precious rights.  I have come to believe that we really have no choice in the matter.  None of us chose by birth to be American, we just are.  That imparts certain patriotic obligations.  We can believe the country is wrong, as I sometimes do, but we each are required regardless of politics, religion, race or creed to answer positively when called to serve militarily.   I understand that not all will agree.

Daughter Julie’s genealogy studies and the Civil War stories and others reported, reinforce my feelings that things have always been and always will be, and the short time we are here requires us to continue the process as well as attempt to improve life for those who will follow.  In every case, the fallen have preserved the opportunity for the nation to continue in a positive way.  It’s up to the remaining to take advantage of that opportunity in a positive way.

Take this day to honor the fallen Veterans of all wars and the families who have endured.  Thank the surviving Veterans who willingly gave years of their lives as well.  The WWII vets are almost gone, and the vets of the next two wars are getting old.  Especially, remember and thank those presently serving.  Then, in spite of the lack of stellar present economic conditions,  be proud to be American.

I thought I had ceased blogging but here I am.  I do not do FaceBook or Twitter.  I really don’t know how or why they exist, and I see no reason in the foreseeable future why I would need to acquire those abilities.  Good wife, Pat allows me to observe photos and such that only seem to be available there.  Thus, I am somewhat covered and will not need to learn those things before they are no more, and are replaced by something else.  Digital citizens in our great digital universe move on,  without me.  Thank goodness I left teaching over 30 years ago, or I might be expected to understand it all.

The weather is improving in Iowa.  There are heavy thunderstorms this weekend, which can always bring the threat of floods.  I have not yet had to mow the grass but expect to within a week.  Then I’ll have to see about some plants in a few pots, and clean and prepare the screen patio for a few months of enjoyment.

The two faces of Iowa are locked in deadly editorial combat.  The current issue of course is Gay Marriage.  Our farm state image is not always portrayed complimentary by the Eastern Press, nor understood by most of the rest of the country.  First thoughts are often that we surely have been left behind by a lack of understanding of those things deemed important.  How shocking it must be to learn that Iowa with a 1 Percent Black populace, launched our first Black President on his way to victory,  or that a perceived Conservative Farm State would be one of the first states after Massachusetts to legalize Gay Marriage.

We are of two faces, and either face can emerge at any given time.  Not always too slowly, but surely there is a steady movement to the Democrat, Liberal, Left.  We continue to elect our two United States Senators, one far right and one far left.  One by Unions, Labor, Teachers and University intellectuals with the superior minds — the other, wins election by support of Farmers, Preachers, and Business, Insurance, and Banking execs.  And of course, don’t forget those with inferior education and redneck qualities.  Lots of us vote for both.  Anyway, the daily papers are filled with the pros and cons of gay marriage.  This spills over to the supporters and detractors of our new Administration.  Now that the government has taken over the banking, auto and insurance segments, most seem to be in favor, but hope they give them back after they get them fixed. Others believe we have already surrendered to Lenin and those that followed and our world is gone forever.  As for me, I don’t like gay marriage, but surely do not want to deny them any benefits  that they perceive they will gain from a marriage versus what they might have under a civil ceremony.  I doubt if we will see any great disaster from this decision, but do not understand why a little compromise might not result in an acceptable situation for all.  As for Obama, I feel he already is a great President.  That doesn’t mean I think he will necessarily be a successful one.  I am frightened by all that is happening and at the same time feel he just might succeed.  And I have always felt that our Constitution does not prohibit in any way, a little Socialism.  I suspect we may like it once we get used to it.  And nothing should prevent us from moving to the right and returning again to our greedy Capitalist ways if we do not like the Socialist style.

This gay marriage thing has presented me with another quandary.  I recently reached my 79th birthday (practically 80, and that’s 4/5 of a hundred).  I have observed that within my family and certainly many others, (our street is full of them) most wives outlive their husbands by some ten years or more.  Certainly I have been stressed as of late, because of the fear that good wife Pat (age 77) may not have much more than 10 or 15 years left.  That surely puts a crimp on my own expected life span.  Geeez.  Now the quandary.  Whatever is the answer for the gay marriage.  Will they be required to specify for insurance purposes which one will be expected to live the additional 10 years.  They do want to be just like the rest of us.  Of course they are not just like the rest of us, and so it goes.

While we are at it, I will just mention another situation that sometimes irritates.  While I want to care for our handicapped citizen companions, why is it we have to go so overboard in providing for their convenience that the rest are sometimes so inconvenienced.  The Hy-Vee (supermarket) seems to be 7/8Th’s handicapped parking.  I myself am just a hairs width of being a helpless cripple.  Not really, but kind of close.  Thus far I have refused to obtain a handicapped parking tag, likewise my nearly physically impaired good wife Pat.  Thus we end up parking in the next county and by then after I enter the market I generally have to take care of bathroom issues only to find that the formerly three stalls have been reduced to one wheelchair accessible stall, which is occupied (Thank you, Depends).  I have always said the kindest thing you can do for any handicapped person is to make them realize they are not just like everyone else.  Then they will learn to do things the very best way for them, and we surely will always extend assistance when needed.  It reminds me of the story of the King who did not like to step on pebbles when walking, so ordered the entire Kingdom to be covered with leather.  Fortunately, one of his aides suggested shoes.  Our government has covered the Kingdom with handicap conveniences, without considering shoes.

I will sign off in just a bit.  I do despair at the anger between our two political parties and those that profess to have all the answers from the far right and the far left.  I can’t take much more of the bickering between MSNBC and Fox.  The business channels report terrible economic conditions.  So I switch to the Science and History channels and discover that we have only three years left anyway.  The Mayan calendar ends in 2012 with many dire consequences, already beginning to appear in the form of global warming, expected hurricanes, volcanic, earthquake, and tsunami catastrophes.  Now the Mexican Swine Flu will surely be pandemic.  And if that isn’t enough, we still have Pirates the world over to deal with, not to mention Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.  Or will we just run out of oil and gas or maybe food?

Before we all get out of joint at World Series time or when the Super Bowl rolls around.  Instead of them being brought to you by General Motors, General Electric,  AIG Insurance, or Bank of America, I’m sure they will be brought to you by your friendly United States Government, maybe at Nancy Pelosi Stadium on Barney Frank Field.    Love and Live the best you can.  Guess I am getting old just about the right time.  Good luck to all.  Have a good one.