Education and Common Sense
You are never too old
When a person is 90 years old, she should be out of danger of a child’s coming in, while she is eating breakfast, and saying, “Oh, I forgot to tell you. I need two dozen cupcakes for a class project at ten o’clock this morning!”
Well, that’s not what my child called and said he needs. My son, Steve, who is a band director at West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Va., has a project for his band. They are going to celebrate 75 years since the end of World War II by playing some of the songs popular at that time.
He is asking the band members and some faculty members to interview their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents to tell them stories of their memories of the war and write them down for publication.
He wants ME to write a story about my working in a War Plant on D-Day, (when the Allies crossed the English Channel and invaded France on June 6, 1944) so he can use it as a model story.
He also wants me to write about his daddy, who was a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force stationed on Tinian, the Pacific Island the Enola Gay took off from when the plane carried the first atom bomb to Japan in August, 1945, ending the war.
Fortunately, I can write the stories as I have found Harold’s diary chronicling the end of the war, and I can quote his own words. I still remember vividly working in the “Powder Plant” in Charlestown, Ind., across the river from Louisville, one summer. We filled cotton bags of gunpowder that were weighed to an exact weight, and sewed them for use in the big guns at the War Front in Europe.
I had a large problem, as my very capable son-in-law, who can fix anything, was installing my new computer, and endeavoring to put some VERY OLD information into a new computer. He had to invent lots of ways to do it, as my printer was so old that there were no supporting helps.
When he started to install the e-mail section , it insisted on downloading every e-mail I had sent or received on that computer since 2009! Over 40,000!
He started working on Sunday about 5 p.m., worked until 11, worked most of the day at home deleting e-mails-often interrupted by the server’s shutting down. He has spent all afternoon and into the night, but it’s working! At Marvin’s normal electronics engineer fee, there is no way I would be able to pay him, but, as Patti reminded me, I gave him my first-born child about 40 years ago.
How’s that for getting the two dozen cupcakes by 10:00? I have a couple more days longer to get the World War II stories to Steve.
Nope, 90 is not too old.
The empty nest syndrome and similar adjustments
The hardest part of getting older is having to relearn old habits. One habit that has been harder for me to conquer is that of not making a big meal for dinner every single Sunday. I have done this for so many years, taking over after my mom no longer could, that it become as second nature to me. I have such a long established routine of it imbedded in my brain that until just lately I have never even considered not doing it.
Most of the ordinary changes in life I have managed to adjust to. The onset of that empty nest syndrome caused more than a just few blips in my comfort zone. Somehow, though, time has done its part to help me roll with the punches, so to speak. However, Sunday dinner has been one particular habit I have always held onto.
Then nine years ago, one of those adjustments that can crop up willy nilly in any lifestyle, came and set up house in us. This was when Walter and I first started going at 7am every Sunday morning to the Hammond Church to help with its 8am radio broadcast. This meant that till 9am when we got back home again, and until 10 when we’d return to the church for the 11am services, I was limited in how much I could get done for whatever dinner I planned to serve later that day. So then to compensate, I sometimes cooked on Saturday the meat I planned to have on Sunday, leaving it in the fridge over-night, only needing to warm it up the next day. That left the veggies and salads, and the dessert which was also most often made the day before. In addition, soon as we got home from the broadcast, Walter would peel potatoes, and after church I had only to cook them, then put everything else together, before the children showed up.
Until recently, I continued to do this just as I always have. The differences that has begun to crop up in these arrangements is that lately, the children do not come as they always did. So then consequently, I am left with all those leftovers to contend with.
They think I don’t know their game plan. I have overheard them talking, as they probably meant me to, telling each other that Mom needs to slow down, to stop cooking those humongously big Sunday dinners. After all, they say; “She’s not as young as she used to be!” Unfortunately, their concern for my health has not helped me to be able to break those habits I have followed all these many years. But I am working on it. Admittedly, though, even when I try to cook only for myself and Walter, it seems to be impossible for me to cook in small amounts. Thus I still have a lot of leftovers. Trying my best to get a handle on the dinners I still think I should make, and trying to vary the more traditional menus that I usually follow, this past Sunday I made breakfast for dinner.
This meant that Walter still peeled potatoes for me before we left for our 11am church services. As for what preps I did, I laid out the ingredients necessary for home made biscuits. Big deal!
Once we were home after church, and while the biscuits was baking, I fried the potatoes, fixed a big skillet of sausage, did bacon in the microwave, then made a big pan of home made gravy. When it was all finished, I called my family for whoever would come and eat with us, but no one did. Once again I had leftovers. I begin now to think that they seriously want me to cease and desist, that they are trying to psych me out. Not my grandchildren, though…some of these still call me on Sunday and ask; “Are you cooking?” I give them a rundown and occasionally they will come, help us dispose of whatever it is I’ve made, they knowing well there will always be plenty. Having them come is such a delight to me that I decide that as long as I can, I will keep on keeping on. For right or wrong, I have this conviction that if I cook, they will come.
‘Twas a time for minor miracles
Considering the fact that — just like thousands of Eastern Kentucky kids during that time period — I was reared in a coal camp, I guess it’s some sort of minor miracle that I escaped childhood without a few memorable injuries. After all, as I look back, I realize my surroundings were fraught with dangerous things that could have injured or maimed a kid.
For instance, it’s a thousand wonders that I hadn’t fallen off – or into — one of those tall, dirty coal gons that the company lined up above the tipple and that I climbed all over every chance I got. Or, I could have fallen through the hole in the loft, onto the concrete floor, of the old dairy barn that served as a hangout, especially on rainy days, and maybe even the unofficial club house for the pre-teen males in 1940s Society Row. Somehow, though, neither happened.
Matter of fact, I can’t remember getting any worse than a bump on the noggin every once in a while or a stubbed toe when I’d accidently take off a toenail after kicking one of the big ever-present rocks that made up the road that ran into the community. But I never saw a single kid in our neighborhood with an arm in a cast or walking on crutches.
We did have a couple of close calls, however. There was that time when my little brother and a friend of his got run over by a horse that rounded the corner running at full speed and caught them unaware. They didn’t get stepped on or anything, but did get slammed pretty good into a large mud hole. Those of us who witnessed it thought sure they were hurt, but mostly what they got was wet and muddy … and mad when the rest of us laughed at them.
Another potentially dangerous situation occurred when someone in the community brought home one of the cutest little fluffy brown pups you’ve ever seen. I think it was a collie. It was very playful for a day or two, then one of the adults noticed it was acting funny. Then, it died. Somebody put its body in a coffee sack and took it to the health department where it was determined to have had rabies. Every kid in the neighborhood who had played with the dog had to have a series of rabies shots, and every morning for fourteen days, a carload of kids had to go to the hospital to get a shot. Neither my little brother nor I was among them. Luckily, no one got sick or anything.
But probably, one of the most dangerous things we did was play with BB guns and slingshots. And just like in the Christmas movie with Ralphie, we were warned that we were going to shoot someone’s eye out. Of course, we never really shot at each other, and if we had, we’d probably have missed. However, a couple of those ricochets, both from BBs and those smooth, round railroad gravels that was the favorite slingshot ammo, came pretty close.
Yep. No broken bones nor catastrophic accidents for a 1940s coal-camp kid just might indeed qualify as some sort of minor miracle.
Did you know?
In the time it takes for you to read today’s column three people will be killed by snails. I don’t mean giant man-eating snails, that live in remote jungles like Madagascar; I’m talking about fresh water snails that live in tropical climates and who carry a deadly parasitic disease called Schistosomiasis. (When my husband Ronnie tried to pronounce this disease he stuttered for a minute and a half). In all, it turns out, 200,00 people a year succumb to this sickness as a result of coming in contact with these little snails.
This information came my way when Ronnie read a report based upon several studies by scientific groups such as the World Health Organization and the National Science Foundation. He started this obtuse conversation by asking me which was more deadly and dangerous: a shark or a deer. In my mind I pictured (Bambi) along side of “Jaws” and answered “the shark”.
“Wrong” he replied with a little too much pleasure. “Sharks only killed three people worldwide in 2014, yet deer killed 100 by running out in front of their cars”.
That’s right folks —- we’re 30 times more likely to meet our demise on the antlers of a deer than the teeth of a Great White!
Ronnie continued with his deadly statistics by adding, “Ninety-four thousand people died by snake bites last year —- that’s about 1 every 5 minutes or 12 per hour.” And then he added with twinkle, “I wonder if that takes into consideration all those worshipers in those churches back in the mountains of South Carolina?”
“I can’t believe how you can find humor in some subject,” I replied.
“Hey,” he retorted. “You’re such a dog lover, did you know dogs killed 61000 people last year?”
“Oh, please —- don’t go there,” I pleaded.
“But they were mostly from rabies in Asia and Africa,” he tried to placate me.
Just under dogs, the next most deadly creature is something I never heard of called an “Assassin Bug”. When I asked Ronnie for more details on it, he shot back, “I don’t know, but they say it has a tiny little face that resembles John Wilkes Booth!”
I could tell Ronnie was pleased with himself for that comeback, but in truth this little insect carries another killer sickness called Chagas disease that damages the heart and nervous system.
And speaking of bugs, the tse-tse fly of Africa made the list by killing 2,000 people last year with a disease called Trydanosomiasis —- or as it is better known “sleeping sickness.”
Ronnie says it doesn’t always kill but it causes its victims to sleep all the time. That’s why he accused me of having being bitten by one. (And for once I think he may be right).
So, if you read this far can you guess what is the most dangerous living creature on the planet? It kills 750,000 people per year (that’s three human beings every 2 minutes). Give up? It’s the mosquito with its deadly disease, Malaria.
And with that I think I’ll spray myself with “OFF”, and make sure there are no killer deer in my backyard before I go to bed.
Have a great week and don’t forget to smile awhile!
Education and Common Sense
Women became voters 95 years ago
Ninety-five years ago, five years before I was born, Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. It stated: The right of Citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.”
That meant that the fight for votes for women that had begun in earnest in the 1840’s had been won. There were many people and groups against women having the vote. Some said that politics was too dirty, and that ladies should not be soiled by the dirtiness. The manufacturers did not want the women to vote for fear that they would insist on laws against child labor. The brewers and distillers were afraid that the women’s vote would bring on prohibition of drinking alcoholic beverages. Others were afraid if the women got the vote they would want to become soldiers, sailors, policemen and firemen.
The Quakers had been letting women speak in church since the beginning of the Quaker movement, but most groups felt that it was highly improper for a woman to speak before a group that contained men and women. (I remember being the first woman to “second a motion” in a church meeting in the 1950’s in a little Baptist church. The church clerk wrote it in the minutes but never came back to that church as he felt we were departing from God’s will in a bad way.) Many churches still disallow women pastors, though they let women do much of the work in the activities of the church..
So the women got the vote. Sometime in the Twenties the country voted for Prohibition of selling liquor. I don’t know whether the women’s vote did that or not, but it wasn’t a very good idea. During the Prohibition Era, The Roaring Twenties, the country went wild. Women’s skirts got shorter, they cut their hair; they danced the Charleston and put on makeup..
When World War II came along in the Forties, women became soldiers and sailors, and worked in the War factories, building ships, planes and guns. At some point child labor was outlawed. Last week two women became elite Rangers in some military outfit. I could not see why they wanted to go through such a grueling test of mental and physical fortitude, but I admired their courage and tenacity.
Many women are doctors, lawyers, engineers, members of Congress, judges, and many have become governors of states. Martha Layne Collins was an excellent governor of Kentucky a few years back.
We have had at least two women Secretaries of State that I can remember, and women have occupied many other high-level government posts, but, so far, we haven’t had a woman President of the United States. We have two ladies running at the present time, former First Lady/ Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. Hillary’s past seems to be catching up with her, and I read that Ms. Fiorina was not a good chief officer at Hewlett -Packard.
Neither of those handicaps have hindered any of the men running for President, or kept any of our former Presidents from being elected. They may be crippling for the female gender.
I don’t know if politics is any cleaner or the world any better since women got the vote, but at least we can make our voices known.
We women have come a long way since we got the vote in 1920!