A Chicago Christmas

Although I only spent 5 years in the city of my birth…I remember it well!  There was a snow on the ground and more in the air, as mom announced that she had retrieved Laughing Santa…and that I must come to see him!

Before me was the little, stuffed, Chief Elf…with his brightly painted face and the crank on his back.  The more that mom turned the crank…the more heartily Old St. Nick laughed.  I watched his antics and reveled in his laughter and wondered how he was able to be so human and yet…seemed not to be so?

There were many, uniquely wrapped, gifts under the 8 foot aluminum Christmas Tree.   Pointing at the shiny artificial  Tannenbaum was a rotating light with a cover of multi-colors that diffused the spectrum of color of the subsequent glow of the beam.

We had returned from our excursion into the city where we saw the new release of Walt Disney’s movie, Lady and the Tramp.  And, the information overload for me, at 3 years old, was tremendous…and ‘visions of sugarplums danced in my head!’

Soon dad and me and mom sat under the Tree as a, mysterious visitor, took our photo…’and that is the rest of the story.’

It was after dark and our outside Christmas lights were lit…and we heard a terrible commotion on the roof of our house in Sauk Village.  It sounded like someone had been on the roof and fell off.  As dad answered the door, I heard him proclaim…’Why come right in!’  There before us…was Santa Claus in all of his red suited, and white bearded, and pipe smoking glory!

Santa laughed, a lesser laugh, than what I had expected…and he wondered if he could use our phone to call Mrs. Claus?  He went on to say that he and the Missus had been involved in a spat when he left and he needed to ensure that there was a home for him to return to…when the Christmas Eve work was completed.  Dad showed him our one phone in the hall…and he began to dial.  We gave him his privacy…he looked like that he needed it.  We heard him say, ‘but…but…but,’ on several occasions, and then he joined us in the living room.  Santa said that he had patched things up and inquired was there anything that he could do for us…before he resumed his journey.  Mom responded that she would like for him to snap a family photo of us under the Christmas Tree.  Santa took her camera and took two pictures…in case the first one did not come out right.

Dad poured the, ‘spritely old elf,’ some eggnog and asked if he wanted something stronger in it…and he smiled with the rosiest of cheeks and said, ‘absolutely!’

As Santa left, on our carport were the reindeer and a bright red glow…from Rudolph’s nose.  Donner and Vixen called out to Santa and asked, ‘where’s ours?’ referring to the spiked eggnog.

So, that is how the Brooks Family Photo…was taken.


‘Waiting For Godot’

‘Waiting for Godot is a play by Samuel Beckett.’    Wikipedia

”The play is a typical example of the Theatre of the Absurd, and people use the phrase ‘waiting for Godot’ to describe a situation where they are waiting for something to happen, but it probably never will…’    Wikipedia

So, I often say that I am, ‘waiting for Godot!’


Aren’t we all waiting for many things in our lives…that have not exhibited themselves ever…or at least not on a semi-regular basis We wait for Godot when we seek justice and fair treatment for all peoples…not just the majority or those who are favored by the political class.  We wait patiently for our elected leaders to care more about their constituents than their own interests.  What a treat it would be to witness a concerted focus to address global warming!

sky earth galaxy universe

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We live in a country that, by all available measurable criteria, live in multiple realities.  There was a famous book, many years ago, that was entitled, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.  This book demonstrated the difficulty in men and women communicating with each other and understanding and empathizing with each others point of view.  Today points of view are dictated by the television news network that you receive your news from.

When I was a teenager, men simply understood that they were going to be drafted and be sent to Vietnam.  My cousin, Billy, was drafted.  The only reason that I was not drafted was due to President Carter abolishing the draft before I became of age to go!

We all watched Walter Cronkite on CBS or Huntley and Brinkley on NBC and we basically received the same news.

We wept when President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 at 12:30 pm, central standard time.  Somehow, we understood that we would never be the same…and we have not!

We are told by our parents and our elders to work hard and ‘pay-our-dues’ and seek to excel in our careers!  We are assured that if we will apply ourselves…we will climb the ladder of success…and we will be another example of the American Dream!  We are told that anyone can be President of the United States and anyone can be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company…the Horatio Alger story of rags to riches…is ours for the taking….

But, what if the person who is doing the hiring…does not play by the rules?  What if it is not…what you know…but who you know….?

Institutions agonize regarding their low morale.  They engage is studies….and consultants….and large committees…too investigate and conduct in depth research into the quandary of ebbing excitement about the work-place!

The answer is simple….we all wait….much as our Jewish friends wait for the Messiah…or justice and equity and fairness…and recognition of consistent hard work and a passion for the job….and someone who has placed their heart and soul into their career….being recognized for their efforts…rather than being passed over for a friend of the boss!

We are still, ‘Waiting for Godot!’




A lovely rain is falling outside the Writing Porch. Coming with the rain are welcome cooler temperatures. It has been awfully hot in Little Egypt. I was thinking yesterday about our desire to be seen and respected by our leaders… in Government or education or Church. The fallback mottos of freedom of speech and freedom of thought and that all are equal under the law…ring hollow in practical life applications. It is easy to feel lonely in a crowd. Many of us proclaim that we want and admire and appreciate diversity…and then look for people that are just like we are. This proclivity has to be overcome by our actions and determination to celebrate the wonderful array of the Human Family….with its’ panoply of colors and languages and customs.

Everyone does not think like me. Everyone sees our world a bit differently. We all desire to be known by our leaders and by those whom we respect. All too often vital decisions are made by old white people. I am an old white person. We can develop such a Tunnel Vision that we see only our personal beliefs and dogma as the correct Roadmap for our Government and our Church. We tend to think in terms of our short lives and how we want our institutions to operate during the span of our personal history. Perhaps our decision-makers are making a devastating decision…and yet they communicate with their small cadre of advisors…who think like they do…and thus all is right with the world.

Disagreeable Voices are vital! Contrary opinions are essential to the health of an organization.

‘I do not think that our pastor knows my name,’ said Jane with consternation. ‘Why is that, asked Chet? ‘He says hi to me when I see him…but I have never had a conversation with him,’ Jane continued. ‘He calls me Pal,’ said Billy B. ‘He calls me Buddy…and from time to time…Friend,’ noted Chet with a smile. ‘Well I feel the same way at School when I see Mr. I. laugh and cut up with the Jocks and other sports celebrities and when I pass he never acknowledges my existence,’ mused Daryl. ‘Mr. I. told me that I could not ‘Go Out’ for the baseball team…and when I asked him why he said, ‘Duh’ and I knew he was referring to me being a girl, said Jane in an angry tone of voice! ‘The Student Council proposed to Mr. I. that our School develop a Womens’ Baseball Team…but he summarily dismissed it along with the Board of Trustees…who all are men,’ said Billy B. ‘I interviewed for a job at the Ben Franklin Dime Store and the manager told me that he would hire me for 75 cents per hour when my friend Russel was hired last week for $1.25 per hour,’ Neva J. noted in a disgusted manner. ‘Naomi asked the Dime Store Manager why he paid women less than men…and he said because they are the Breadwinners of the family…when I went into his office on my second day and told him that I was the breadwinner for my family…he gave me a blank stare…and told me to get back to work,’ Neva J. continued.

Florida Is Fun

Pounds Hollow was the place to be for Billy B. and Chet and Jane and Daryl. From Memorial Day until Labor Day…they spent the bulk of their time either on the sandy beach of the Hollow or in the air-conditioned comfort of the Orpheum Theatre @ Eldorado. Billy B. was never a sportsman but he could swim and float like a beach ball. The water was his second home and he loved it as if it was his first. Everything seemed possible to Billy B. as he meditated on life and its’ secrets while he was floating in the deep end of the Lake. In his Pounds Hollow Dreams, he was grown with a lovely wife and two wonderful sons. He treated all whom he met…as he wanted to be treated and subsequently was thought of with respect and a friend to all.

‘I love coming to Pounds Hollow…it is the most peaceful place that I know,’ mused Jane. ‘Yes, and the water is always so inviting…and room temperature on the 25th of June…just like I like it,’ Chet exclaimed. ‘Be careful of the Water Moccasins,’ said Neva J. ‘They hang out in the Deep Water,’ Daryl added. ‘Chet and I are headed for the far bank of the Lake,’ Billy B. proclaimed. ‘I am bringing my inner tube…in case I get tired of swimming,’ Chet said. ‘I will not need one…as I am buoyant as an inner tube,’ Billy B. laughed. ‘I think that I will accompany you guys…I want to experience Nirvanna, Daryl said. ‘I would not be surprised if there was not a sea monster that is similar to the Loch Ness Monster…in the depths of Pounds Hollow,’ said Chet as he swam by Billy B. and Daryl. ‘I once saw a shadow under the water that was as long as our Eldorado High School Football Field,’ remarked Billy B. ‘No one has discovered how deep Pounds Hollow is…as each time that divers attempt to measure it they get a reading on their footage meter that is different than the time before,’ Daryl said. ‘It seems that the depth of the Hollow increases and decreases on its own…with no rational or logical explanation as to why or how it happens,’ Daryl continued.’ ‘No one has ever touched bottom,’ Chet whispered in a spooky intonation.

Billy B. sat on his buddies, Ira Kaye and Ron’s, balcony at Miramar Beach, Florida. He thought of how relaxing it was to just stare at the mysterious Ocean in front of him. There were young families with their children…frolicking on the white sandy beach. He sipped his vodka and orange juice and lit the fine cigar from the Cigar Store in Destin. It was January 2022 and a trip to Florida was just what the doctor ordered. He did not swim in the Gulf in January…the water was too cold…he liked it at room temperature. Someone was waving at him from the Berm that was far out from the shore. Billy B. zoomed his camera to its fullest extent and before his eyes were, Chet and Daryl…jumping up and down and making funny faces and yelling…’Billy B…Come and join us!’


‘It has occurred to me that others are seeking to control me,’ said Chet. ‘I enjoy wearing my blue jeans but the principal at our school says that we must wear slacks,’ Chet continued. ‘It has always bothered me that I can not wear a dress above my knees and I have to measure each of them to ensure that they are two inches below my knees,’ Jane said in exasperation. ‘My Converse Tennis Shoes are twice…maybe three times more comfortable than my leather school shoes…yet I can not wear my Converse to class,’ Billy B. bemoaned. ‘It seems to me that people should be able to marry whom they love…rather than fill some outdated law that says marriage is only between a man and woman, Daryl said. ‘Why do people stare and whisper when a man and woman of different races love each other and are married, Neva J. asked with some consternation. ‘Why do we label people…rather than see them for the creation of
God that they are,’ Jane proclaimed.

‘The people that make the rules are the people that break the rules,’ said Billy B. ‘Neva J. and I attended a strict Holiness Church…and if you broke one of their numerous rules…you suffered the consequences…yet the leadership did what they pleased and broke most of their own rules…behind closed doors!’ ‘Power corrupts and ultimate power corrupts…ultimately,’ Chet said. ‘Powerful people are adept at making laws and rules that do not affect them…but rather are onerous for the poor and for those who have little resources and no voice in the affairs of the Elite, Neva J. said.

‘We live in our own reality…and often our religion colors that reality…our lawmakers’ fashion laws that are in lockstep with their faith…but it is not everyone’s faith, said The Wiz,’ Darryls’ father. ‘There is a fundamentalist outcry to return prayer to schools…however, the politicians who promise that they will get this done is not speaking of your faith of perhaps my faith…but their narrow view of the Christian Faith. They are pandering to their base of support and the other faiths or religions such as; Jewish, Moslem, Hindu…and the many Americans who are atheist or agnostic,’ The Wiz continued. The powerfuls’ wish for prayer in schools is specifically for the prayers that they approve of…not for those outside their circle of influence,’ Chet said in little more than a whisper.

‘The conflict and hate and strong words are what bother me the most when two or more people disagree on a rule or a law,’ Jane said with a tear in her eye. ‘We scream and holler and fight and rend and tear for our opinion and we do not see the human being that is disagreeing with us…as loved and of value and someone that we should live peaceably with, Chet noted with his wise words. ‘It seems that we all are true believers when it comes to the rightness of our cause…but we are blind to the nuances of the subject,’ Neva J. said with her eyes closed…as if in prayer. ‘We will never understand our fellow human family members until we walk a mile in their shoes,’ said Billy B.

The Truth Will Set You Free

I recall my 32-year and 2 months and 3 weeks career at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale with great affection. I remember working for a manager who relished misleading the University Administration. This person went on to tell me that if we did not stage a work slow down and illustrate how personal cuts had hurt Building Services…we would continually be reduced by more and more staff. He had watched other departments do what he was doing…with seemingly all success and no downside to causing our students and faculty and staff to work in unkempt and deteriorating facilities and grounds. In fact, I almost became convinced that I was the ‘Goat’ and the fool for not doing what everyone else seemed to be doing with no apparent knowledge of the ruse by the University Administration and the grudging approval of the Community. I wondered how that Administration could not realize the games that were being played with them. When it seems that everyone surrounding you believes one thing and you believe the opposite…it is a lonely life. I simply could not play with the most precious gift of a career at SIUC…nor punish the University Community for the budget shortfalls of the Leadership. I am an admirer of the original Star Trek television show and my favorite character was Mr. Spock. Mr. Spocks’ measurement of problems and conundrums was whether or not the solution was logical. The concept of demonstrating a lie to produce a truthful result was beyond me. I was convinced that Building Services must do its best…and we would ultimately be recognized for our dedication to doing a good job.

During the past few years, we have seen the same struggle with Lies and Truth. The struggle has been on live television and an attempted Coup of our Government…that almost succeeded. The Tug-Of-War has been in clear view of everyone and the old adage, ‘Do not believe what your lying eyes and lying ears…are telling you!’ I have heard a statement…many times…that, ‘God uses rough instruments to do his will.’ I heard the same illogical theory when many told me that to short-change the students and to cause the staff and faculty to learn and work in dirty buildings and unsanitary restrooms and classrooms with no chalk and that you had to kick the Daily Egyptians out of the door to enter. Rest Rooms with no toilet paper and no hand towels and facilities that no one would use… except in an emergency. Our former President said, ‘Just say that there was a fraud…we will take care of the rest.’ In other words…Lie so the truth will prevail.

‘The numbers are the numbers…numbers do not lie,’ said Billy B. ‘Donald has lost the election for Class President…by a lot,’ Jane noted. ‘Donald is already saying that the election was fraudulent and he has several tough guys surrounding him,’ Daryl said. ‘A police officer is guarding Chet…as he is receiving terrible threats,’ Neva J. said with a very worried look on her kind face. ‘I am going to do my best to be a good and honorable Class President…that is all that I can do,’ said Chet. ‘My cousin is in Vietnam…and our former Schoolmates are fighting and dying for the freedom that we hold dear…I will not fold to pressure…I have known pressure all of my life,’ Chet continued.

‘It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation…and a moment to tear it down,’ Neva J. said softly.

Dreams Can Seem Real…

‘I am an avid Dreamer,’ said Billy B. ‘At times when I first awaken…it seems that my dream was reality…and reality…my dream.’. ‘I have read that there is a theory that dreams are our reality and what we perceive as reality…is merely a dream,’ said Chet with a wise look on his face. ‘Once I dreamt that I was in school sitting in our classroom…and when I woke up…there was Mrs. B. looking down on me sternly,’ Jane laughed. ‘Dad says that our dreams are often the hidden reality that we have lived in past lives or other dimensions, said Daryl. Daryls’ Dad was the 6th-grade teacher and dressed all in black clothing with a Wizards Hat on his head…and preferred to be called The Wiz. ‘Dad has written a book on the subject of Real Dreams and it was a best seller in England,’ Daryl continued. ‘In fact, Dad conducted seminars regarding the subject of Real Dreams and the Bath City Pavillion was full for each of them, Daryl noted in a hushed tone. ‘I wonder if your Dad could explain my dream of being a passenger on a ship that sailed endless seas and stopped at the most interesting…and familiar excursion locations,’ asked Billy B.? ‘He most certainly could…and I will tell him that you want to see him after school,’ Daryl answered.

The ship was rocking back and forth so violently that Billy B. could barely hold on even with grasping onto the rails on either side of the narrow hallway. Then…the Ocean calmed in a moment…and he was getting off at a nameless…but familiar store…where everyone seemed to know him by name and greet him as if he were family. ‘Good to see you again,’ said the store’s Proprietor. ‘Back for another Cruise…I see,’ said Neva J. ‘I would really like to find a good watch…this Cruise,’ remarked Jane. ‘You are looking like A Champ,’ Chet said while grinning like the Cheshire Cat of Alice In Wonderland. ‘I must have a new hat…my current one is wearing out…but then what should I expect…it is 200 years old,’ laughed The Wiz. ‘I am so sleepy…I must find a bed and lay down my weary head,’ rhymed Billy B.

‘Wake up Billy B.,’ said Mrs. B. as the rest of the class laughed. Billy B. shook himself and asked if he could go to the restroom. When he exited the classroom…there was the Ship and his friends…

‘I heard that you wanted to talk with me, Billy B.,’ said The Wiz. ‘Yes I do sir,’ Billy B. answered. Is what we are experiencing right now…a dream or reality,’ Billy B. earnestly asked. ‘What do you think that it is, Billy B.’ asked The Wiz? ‘It feels real most of the time except for the unexplainable fact that the inside of the School is much larger than the outside…and I know because I have measured both,’ said Billy B. ‘Art is my savior when I am thinking about my reality…it expresses both my dream life and what I believe that I am living as a form of reality,’ said The Wiz. ‘The finest of Art is an expression of what the artist saw when she or he was painting the Piece,’ The Wiz continued. ‘Vincent van Gogh painted his masterpieces that way that he saw them,’ The Wiz said with a sly grin. ‘Many reported that they have seen Aliens and indeed…have been abducted by them…while others see their deceased loved ones…as if they were alive…and the love ones speak to them,’ The Wiz said softly.

Billy B. thanked The Wiz for his wisdom and exited the School Room and found Jane who said, ‘where ever have you been Billy B. I found the perfect watch! ‘This Boat is Rocking…,’ exclaimed Chet…

‘Please join me for dinner…in the Banquet Hall…I hear that the desert tonight is…Baked Alaska…,’ said Phillip K. Dick…

The Banality Of Lies

In Eldorado, we knew the difference between lies and truth. Residents of Eldorado worked hard for their pay and did not suffer fools gladly. They were in the midst of a terrible war in Vietnam…and Americans were dying daily. It was not a volunteer Army…you were drafted and most poor and middle-class people had to go. Most of them went to church on Sunday and expected their neighbors and friends and those with whom they did business…to be honest, and not insult them with Banal Lies. They understood that lies were real and that people lie…however, they did expect the lies to be creative and somewhat believable. They understood that there were ‘Snake Oil Salesmen’ and Grifters and Confidence Men…and they were on their guard because often there were wolves in sheep’s clothing. Not often did a person tell Eldoradians that they were going to lie to them…and then tell them the lie…and they consequently buy the lie as if it were the ‘Gold of Ophir’ that the Bible speaks of.

‘Donald says that if he is elected Class President…he will ensure that all of us receive A’s on our report cards,’ Daryl said. ‘I do not think that he has that power or the ability to perform such a difficult and unethical feat,’ said Jane. ‘He may not…but he seems to be gaining support daily as he repeats his false claim, Billy B. replied. ‘I want only white people…Caucasian students and white teachers in our school…no people who are not Americans,’ Donald proclaimed with a bugged-eyed intensity! ‘Once I am elected as your Class President…I will not allow students or teachers who are against us…who do not love America…to continue at our school,’ Donald went on to say.

‘I spoke with my Dad, The Wiz, who as you know is the instructor in our sixth grade, that Donald is a poor student and has failed sixth grade once and thus is repeating the 6th…this year, said Daryl. ‘Susie told me that Donald attempted to forcibly kiss her and slammed her against the lunchroom wall…and that she is afraid of him,’ said Jane. ‘Did she report him,’ asked Billy B? ‘She did report him but Mr. I. is a supporter of Donald’s Class Presidency… responded that although he would look into it…he wondered what Susie had done to cause Donald to want to kiss her…he asked if she led Donald on,’ said Jane.

Election Day had arrived and Donald had begun posting photographs of students who were African American or Hispanic or Handicapped…and they had the caption…’Restore Our School…We can do Better.’ Ethnic students or students who were a bit different from the majority began to call in sick to school and were afraid to attend due to the catcalls and threats that they had to endure from Donald’s supporters.

Many of the good citizens of Eldorado were dismayed at what was occurring in their school. Most were against the Bullying…and Banal Lies and Hate Speech of the student…Donald. But…others thought that Donald was tellin’ it like it was…and that he was saying what they had been thinking for some time. Chet had undergone daily Bullying and insults from Donald and his supporters. He had seen Donald at Dad’s Restaurant and Donald had been affable and slapped him on the back and told him that he was a good man but that he had to tear Chet down in order to win the election. ‘Can we just be honest and be truth-tellers, asked Chet? ‘Truth Tellers are Losers,’ Donald said with a wicked laugh.

Eldorado was up in arms and now almost evenly split between the people who thought that Donald was a ‘Breath of Fresh Air’ for their school…and those who believed that Chet would be the best person for Class President due to his honesty and humility and wisdom.

Now…it was time to count the votes…

A Great Fathers’ Day

When I look back on Fathers Days of Years, the realization hits me that a year goes by quickly. We are nearly halfway through 2022. We put off to tomorrow what we can do today…and before we know it…it is tomorrow. When we arrived at Mary Janes’ in Cape Girardeau…they told us to be prepared for a 45-minute wait…but we could eat at the bar immediately. The Bar was fascinating. I have never sat in front of so many colorful bottles of liquor. Some with names that I had never heard of. There were three people behind the bar…but only one performer…the head bartender. I watched as he created a Smoked Old Fashioned and marveled at his skill and theatrical ability. Simply being party to the performance…made me want one. As I perused the multitude of bottles I noticed several of the same types of Bourbon on the top of the shelves. When I inquired as to their availability he told me the story of how he had traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to hand pick the bourbon that was drawn directly out of its barrel…and that in the corner was the barrel…and that he had 250 bottles, to begin with…but now only 30 remain. There was also the bottle that was next to the group and it represented another unique and rare Bourbon. The gentleman sitting next to me at the Bar said that he belonged to a Bourbon Club in St. Louis, Missouri. he had been a single malt Scotch man before converting. Another gentleman sitting nearby commented when I explained what the bartender was doing when he smoked the Old Fashioned, ‘That is Old School.’ I agreed heartily…

The mood was light and the conversation flowed freely @ Mary Janes on Fathers’ Day. When the fellow who said that it was Old School, regarding the Smoked Old Fashioned got up to leave he wished me happy Fathers’ Day and told me to enjoy my day and it was good that I was sitting at a nice Bar and having a drink or two…and that I deserved it. I was impressed with how nice he and his wife were. We need so much more talking and perhaps a drink to oil the gears of conversation…rather than catcalling and fighting and rude hurtful rhetoric and conspiracy theories. Committees are formed and studies are written and lofty goals are set…to rid the world of racism and hate and the lies that we have been told…when a longer Bar…or a longer table…and the honest conversation of the humble are what we need.

Donald was a bit introspective. When he thought of others he thought of them through the mental prism of what they could do for him. Chet and Billy B. had befriended Donald… but could not help but notice that he took advantage of many of their fellow classmates. Donald was running for Class President and he was being especially nice to those kids that he believed would vote for him. There was another group of kids that wanted Chet to run for Class President. Chet was very well thought of for his kindness to everyone and his wise words and considerate demeanor. He also was a minor celebrity for his rendition of the Lost In Space Robot at many class social functions and in numerous school plays. Chet had poor eyesight and wore thick glasses and often held a book he was reading…close to his face. Donald, who was a basketball player and a letterman in three sports…was a jock. At a Class President Rally just a day before the vote…Donald said, ‘Do you want me for your President…an avid sportsman and Herculean ability…or do you want ‘Wet’…his nickname for Chet…to be your President…when he can not see his hand before his face…and you never know when he is looking at you through his ‘Coke Bottle Glasses?’ Many of Donalds’ Supporters…laughed…but most of the Rally Crowd was hushed… Some in the crowd admired the humble manner that Chet exhibited when he was publicly made fun of by Donald. Others thought…’Survival of the fittest…and may the best man win.’


We had a lovely visit with our Traveling Buddies, Ira Kaye and Ron, this afternoon. Pheasant Hollow a Winery that is in a beautiful rustic area with some superb wine to offer. We discussed future travel plans to Maine and as always enjoyed each other’s company. I reflected on how blessed we were to have such good friends. I always think of my Dad on this penultimate day before Father’s Day. He used to arrive home from work and hoist me onto his shoulders and carry me around the house and I felt like the king of the world. He wore a motorcycle hat and a leather motorcycle jacket and he looked like a benevolent tough guy. I can remember him pushing me on my tricycle. I was very young. He had a great laugh.

Dad would drive the Harley Motorcycle and I would sit in the middle of the big leather seat and mom behind me. The big Harley had saddlebags on the back and it was a joy to ride on it with Dad and Mom. We rode all the way from Sauk Village to Eldorado, Illinois on the one-holiday trip. When we arrived I was certainly tired and soon was at Grandma Askews’ kitchen table drinking a large white porcelain cup of whole milk…and boy did it taste good. Dad was a bit of a hero to moms’ sisters and Uncle Bill…Wandas’ husband. He was a Junior and this is the name that Mom’s family referred to him as. When Uncle Bill would see Dad he would begin to work his tongue in and out of the gap in his lower teeth and grin from ear to ear. Now Uncle Bill often grinned and moved his tongue between his teeth…but it was unique when he saw his buddy…Junior. Dad was a World War II Vet. He served in the Pacific Theatre. He and Mom came from the Mount Vernon and Ashley area and they had migrated to Chicago shortly after they were married…to obtain work. Mom worked in the Hilton Hotel as a Switchboard Operator and on occasion put a call through for Conrad Hilton…himself. Dad was a Semi Truck Mechanic. We had a great house with outstanding neighbors and lived the early 60s dream of suburban life. I often compare it to the popular television show of the time…Leave It To Beaver.

Dad came from the country but he looked like the city. He was a bit of a mobster… to his effect. He carried a concealed weapon without a license and he was tough without talking about it. He sent Mom home some carved wooden boxes that the natives of an island that he was on during the war had carved. Mom feared that he had been intimate with some of the girls on the island after she saw photos in a National Geographic Magazine. He enjoyed Pall Mall cigarettes and smoked four packs of them a day. He came from a life-shattering War back to a land of milk and honey and little understanding of its’ proud and faithful warriors.

As I grow old I wonder what Dad thought when the vagaries and challenges of life confronted him. There was not anyone to talk to about the concerns of life…men were just supposed to suck it up and march forward…much as in World War II. I can recall when someone saw a man cry…they thought him somewhat of a wimp. So…this Fathers’ Day MJ and I have the lights of our lives…Aaron and Jonathon…our sons. They bring us such joy and peace and contentment…and our constant delight. I wish that Dad could have met them.

Art And Home

I became an Art aficionado somewhat later in life. Prior to the late 90s, I appreciated Fine Art…but after that I love Fine Art. It is a bug that once bitten the affection is permanent. Art brings me peace and comfort and a feeling of home…wherever and whenever I see it. MJ and I traveled for several years to Lowertown Paducah, Kentucky a wonderful Artistic Community. We were back recently and visited with Char and Jay Downs. Char is a skilled and longtime renowned artist. I think that the Art Bug first bit us in Montreal, Canada. As the French Canadian lady spoke to us about the intriguing art in her shop…and offered us more complimentary wine…we were hooked.

Home is a feeling more than a place…in my mind. During the past few months, I have visited Eldorado on several occasions…and I felt supremely at home…although I have not lived in the little Southern Illinois town for nearly 50 years. I enjoyed walking the streets of the City of Gold…so much…I keep wanting to return and snap more photos. Every nook and corner…has memories. When I see the Orpheum Theatre I am transported in time back to the 60s and the many hours of enjoyment that I experienced watching movies in the Theatre. The Orpheum was my church on Sunday. On a regular basis…weekly…I would enter the Theatre around 1:00 P:M: and stay until 9:00 P:M:. Of course, those were the days when you could watch the Feature over and over for the same 35-cent ticket.

Each time that I pass our church, First Presbyterian, I think of home. We have been attending for 24 years and thoroughly enjoy the inclusiveness of the congregation. Over my 32 + year career at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale, I relished the mixture of races and ethnicities and customs and faiths…and lack thereof. First Presbyterian Church mirrors that feeling of home with its’ welcoming of all people.

Earth is our home. However…somehow it seems that we are not able to recognize our brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers. Art helps to unite us in our human family.

My friend, Sandra Burns ART is a tremendous artist and you can look at some of her work at Sandra Burns ART@vintagecove or http://sandraburns.org

Cool Friday

‘Friday is a special day,’ said Billy B. ‘I have waited all week for Friday…and I intend to get the most out of it,’ Billy B. continued. ‘I have my sleeping bag and camping gear all ready to go, Chet announced. ‘I am so glad that the temperature has dropped,’ Jane noted. ‘We will roast marshmallows and cook hot dogs…accept for Chet, who likes them raw…and drink a little wine,’ laughed Neva J. ‘I am happy that we purchased those two tents from Western Auto…they will come in handy if it rains…or if there are bears or coyotes in the woods,’ said Jane. ‘I want to go through Fat Man’s Squeeze,’ said Chet. ‘I heard that it is easy to get stuck in that rock formation,’ Jane added. ‘Not if you do not breath,’ laughed Billy B.

The Garden Of The Gods had its’ illustrious name for a reason. It is breathtakingly beautiful. The rocky cliffs and formations are like none other in Southern Illinois. ‘This looks like a good spot to set up camp,’ said Chet. ‘Jane and I will gather some firewood,’ Billy B. said. ‘Neva J. and I will set up the tents and open the wine,’ grinned Chet. As the sun set the camping fire was crackling. ‘I love these hot dogs, Chet proclaimed. ‘Even if they are roasted over the open fire, Jane asked? ‘Indeed,’ Chet responded. The night was cool but the wine and the fire were warming and the little group was content and well into their…Cups. ‘Have you ever heard of a Chupacabra, asked Chet? ‘Is that a type of wine,’ asked Neva J.? ‘No, it is a creature similar to a dog…but with long arms and it stands upright…somewhat like a human, Chet answered. ‘There have been sightings in the Garden Of The Gods…some think that it was a coyote standing on its hind legs…but one of the people that saw it said that it had a head…like a pig…

The glowing embers of the campfire were a soothing sight. Jane and Neva J. were in one of the tents and Chet and Billy B. were in the other. The sounds of the woodland wildlife were musical…and the frogs croaking from the nearby pond…was like the bass section of the Garden Orchestra. Billy B. felt the need to heed the call of nature and unzipped his tent flap and walked out to find a secluded spot…he was so sleepy that it seemed that he was dreaming…when he saw a figure sitting by the campfire embers. ‘How are you doing…Billy B. asked the figure with the Pigs Head…do you have any more of those wonderful hot dogs,’ as he laughed and refilled his wine glass…

Photo by Tuu011fba Akdau011f on Pexels.com