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!’



Old #63 Is Still Chugging!

The temperature was 80 degrees at noon and is now 54 degrees. Now that is a dramatic temperature drop! Tomorrow is the big day…I leave #62 and join the great #63’s! Why it seems like yesterday I was turning 40…and I thought how old that I had become! You may say that I really enjoy my birthday…and you would be correct. Remember that you only get one per year. I am always in a particular good humor during this time of year. I reflect on where I have been and I wonder what is in store for the future. Life has so many twists and turns and hills and valleys…you feel somewhat like a battle hardened soldier as time goes by.

MJ and I and our dear friends, Steve and Faye, enjoyed a birthday celebration for MJ at St. Louis, Missouri…when she turned 40. I can remember all of us enjoying some wine, which was somewhat new to us, and reflecting on the maturity of purpose and recognition of self…that the celebration brought us. MJ led us in our mutual agreement that we were not only going to guide our own lives…but take joy in doing so! The world was our oyster…and there was blue sky and a clear horizon ahead of us. We chose a good way to live! There has been much more joy than sorrow!

When I look at our sons, Aaron and Jonathon, my life is complete! They have been the focus of MJ and my attention for many years…and they never cease to amaze us with their kindness and growth as gentlemen!

The past 10 years have been a delight! Our wonderful friends and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Ron and Ira Kaye have been so gracious to us and invited us to visit them in Destin, Florida on numerous occasions! Each of these visits have been memorable! Our great friends, Jeff and Margo, have hosted us and traveled with us throughout Europe…on 4 occasions. My view of the world and understanding of its marvelous tapestry…has greatly increased! We have been to Maine, which we love, and we are going back next fall! We have experienced several visits with my brother Brock and my sister-in-law Marcy…and they have enriched our lives!

I vividly recall wondering how any girl would be interested in me. Since I am not blessed with good looks or a fine physique or a keen intellect…I thought that I would be doomed to a solitary life! MJ has been a blessing to me and she is the best mother that I have ever seen. She loves her boys and would do anything for them. She has been a true compass in our lives!

Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale continues to be a holiday in my retired life! I walk it’s golden pathways daily. So many of the good things that have happened in our lives can be traced back to SIUC. The wonderful people that I had the opportunity to meet and who helped me..have made an indelible imprint on my heart! The opportunity that I was afforded to help others…was a special blessing.. So, tomorrow we travel to Cunetto’s House of Pasta on the Hill in St. Louis. We have been going there to celebrate my birthday for many years. They are excellent in social distancing. We will toast the past…and then toast the future…….

The Haunted House in 2020!

So there was our intrepid Halloween revelers in 2020! They were delivered from cousin Billy’s house in 1962. The last they could remember was the very real Frankenstein and Dracula taking their hands and telling them to shut their eyes. Chet noted that Hillcrest School looked much the same as in 1962 accept for some peeling paint. There were still the framed photos on the walls of the long hall. One of the photos had Porter’s cousin, Brenda, in it with her 8th grade graduation class. Porter had always been fond of Brenda as she babysat him in 1962. Parker mentioned that if they truly had traveled in time and it was 58 years later…why not try to find their adult selves…

Chet noted that they would all be either turning 63 or 63 already… as they were born in 1957…they were Baby Boomers…although they did not know the term. Dracula, or at least someone who certainly looked the part ushered them into the school auditorium. Once inside the large room they were told to sit in the front row and prepare to hear about what the future had brought them. Each in turn were shown videos of their senior adult selves and their children and even their grandchildren.

Parker had slipped out of the school auditorium to see what she could discover. She had rode a bicycle that was by the front door of the school up town to inspect the shape that it was in. She found most of the stores had closed as well as the Orpheum Movie Theatre. In the place of the Ben Franklin Dime Store and Carter and Chossier’s Drug Store, as well as many other stores…was Antique Stores and Stores for collectors of paraphernalia. Parker wondered what time had done to the little thriving town of Eldorado?

Chet told Porter that the television show that was played for them in the auditorium, he had seen in a dream. He said that he had experienced a nightmare that the United States had become more divided that the 1960’s and that it had all began with the assassination of President Kennedy. Porter retorted that President Kennedy was fine in 1962 and had just negotiated the country’s safety from the Cuban Missile Crisis. Chet agreed but went on to explain to Porter that everything changed in 1963! President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald and that is where the disintegration of American society began! Chet went on to say that the American people’s confidence in their government had melted away…until in 2020 a reality television show host had become President and was seeking reelection to a second term… Porter asked, ‘What is a Reality Show television host?’ Chet responded that he really did not want to know…because it was similar to the TV show, The Twilight Zone, and the condition of the nation had become basically divided between two camps of people who not only did not agree with each other…but were incapable of compromise or fruitful discussion. When Porter asked Chet how he was speaking in such an adult manner….Chet replied that he had been here before…

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Parker returned to Hillcrest School’s auditorium and rejoined her friends. She told them of the dramatic change in the downtown area. She went on to say that she had seen a political billboard of one of their classmates who had become a state senator…and he looked just like he did in 1962…accept older and more distinguished! Chet said that he wanted to visit Parrish Addition and see if the old home place was still standing. So…Frankenstein drove them to Chet’s childhood home of 1962. Not only was it still standing but there was his mother, Thelma, who was 90 years old. She cried when she saw Chet!. She embraced him and said that she had not laid eyes upon him in over 20 years! Then Thelma wiped her eyes and exclaimed that Chet was a child again! Chet attempted to explain to his mom that he and Parker and Porter had been Trick or Treating in 1962 and had met Frankenstein and Dracula who had transported them to 2020…and that he supposed that they were senior citizens…somewhere?

The two monsters spoke eloquently to the three child time travelers. Frankenstein explained in a voice not dissimilar to the great English Actor, Boris Karloff, that they bad been chosen to see a bit of the future in order to work toward the unity of human beings during their lives. Dracula went on to say, in the resonate baritone of the Actor Bela Lugosi, that they had chosen the 3 midwesterners as a test to determine if the voice of regular people could be heard above the deafening

din of those who had been captured and enraptured by the cry for blood and soil and tears… Porter asked if they were really…real? Frankenstein replied that we are as real as you need us to be…

Parker woke up in her first grade classroom. She had laid her head upon her desk and fallen asleep. Mrs. K had asked, ‘Who is ready for the best Halloween ever?’

Autumn Dreams — The Jazz Man

I continue to be captivated by the natural beauty of Southern Illinois in the fall! The cool temperatures and the proliferation of trees with their resplendent colors…will cause you too, ‘Pack up you troubles in your old kit bag…and smile, smile, smile!’ Of course adding to my good humor is the fact that the old […]

Autumn Dreams — The Jazz Man

Am I My Sister and My Brother’s Keeper?

My favorite month is racing by! I love October! It is fall and my birthday month! I have loved this month since I can remember months… It has been chilly in Little Egypt and rainy. I walked around campus lake this afternoon and observed some beautiful autumn colors on the numerous trees in campus woods. Our world is changing and we are in the midst of our 2020 pandemic. The changes that we are experiencing are all encompassing and many of us are having difficulty in keeping up with the change! When we began…8 months ago…we suspected that this plague would pass in a few difficult months. We were wrong!

Social Distancing is hard both emotionally and mentally. We Americans love our restaurants and bars…we love the wonderful people who serve us and for whom the Virus has been an economic nightmare! Our human make-up is to be with others…our happiness is contained in our fellowship with our friends and colleagues and family. Studies have shown that when watching a movie or a play or any social activity…we most enjoy watching other people! The old saying that, No man is an island,’ is inherent in our human nature.

So we love our fellow humans. We love to see them and interact with them and hug them and shake their hands and bask in the warm glow of their brilliant smiles and friendly and loving demeanor! Whether it is on the football field or in the hockey rink or Trick or Treating on Halloween. We are at the threshold of Thanksgiving and Christmas…and all of the celebrations that ensue and which enrich our spirits and give us strength to end the current year and begin the new year! Some of our holiday experiences may be likened to the popular Christmas movie, and my favorite Christmas show, Christmas Vacation We want to see uncle Leo! We miss cousin Eddie!

We are not fighting a person or a political party or living our lives by the stanzas of Frank Sinatra’s famous song, I Did It My Way! We are fighting a sickness that is easily transferred from human to human and that can take your life! It is not about what the Democrats or the Republicans say…it about the health and safety of our fellow humans…that we all love and want to be with…

Our senior citizens are cherished by their families and friends and fellow church congregants. Do we think that it is alright to take the virus to grandma’s house? A vaccine is coming…but not yet. The Stock Market doing well is not indicative of what is happening on Mainstreet or my street or your street! We will come out on the other side of Covid-19…but will it be with over 200 and 21 thousand dead…or 2 million? When you wear a mask and practice social distancing…you are my keeper….when I wear a mask and practice social distancing…I am your keeper…

Cheers to What Birthdays Shall Come

Another great Jonathon Brooks Blog!


I enjoy looking forward to life’s major and minor events. When I have made plans to meet a friend then I’ll look forward to that rendezvous. After ordering books I look forward to their arrival and getting to read them or perhaps save them for a later date. I always look forward to birthday or holiday celebrations. And that line brings me to this one: My father has a birthday to celebrate on Saturday!

We members of the Brooks family do birthdays right! There’ll be a fine dinner and Polaroid pictures and presents and laughter and joy and coconut cream cake. Saturday will be a joyful day! Although shouldn’t all our days have joy in them?

In a year like this one with the pandemic, I’m looking forward to a healthier world again with a vaccine. Even amidst a pandemic, however, we can still have joy. I know this isn’t…

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A Cold Rain — The Jazz Man

It was 48 degrees but it felt like 45. Chet’s mom had insisted that he put on his long underwear before he dressed in Halloween Costume. Chet told her that the Lost In Space Robot costume was very warm…but she was not convinced. So Chet complied with his mom’s wishes and he was just placing […]

A Cold Rain — The Jazz Man

What Is Truth

Pastor Kerry’s sermon this morning expanded my mind! He told us that in a little over two weeks people who would identify as conservatives and people who identify as progressives will go to the voting booths across our country and vote for totally different people and that they will do so from their understanding of love as their faith community teaches them. I posted a quote from a progressive christian yesterday and saw quickly that where I read a inspiring message regarding helping the poor and needy and marginalized and oppressed on our shared home…the earth…my friends saw a darker writing. The quote began by stating that the Bible spoke more about how christians should treat the less fortunate, while on earth…and spoke little about the afterlife… I latched on to the message of helping others…but upon re-reading I could see how other readers might feel that the message of Heaven had been discounted… I think we all see our world, rather political or our faith communities, through kaleidoscope glasses.

Let me bring you into my little secret…I have a lot of conservative friends! I have conservative friends that I would do anything in my power to help. To consider a group of people as wrong or bad or misguided is to discount their sincerity and their humanity. I was visiting with a friend recently and I mentioned that the truth of most situations is neither to the extreme left or right…but usually somewhere in the middle. When we paint each other with demonizing labels and derogatory epithets…how are we solving the unprecedented division that our country is undergoing?

Have you watched on television when protests become frightening, where each side that is advocating an issue gets in the face of the other side and they scream at each other at the top of their lungs! If you have a position that you would like to share with someone who is of another mind…do you believe that screaming at them or labeling them or wishing them harm…is the best way?

Conspiracy theories are being given the credence of truth and reality. This is happening in a dearth of collegiality and fellowship and communication. If we are ever to understand each other we must first listen to each other…and consider why they have the point of view that they have. We can sit down at the same table and break bread together, but first we must stop the spewing forth of vitriolic verbal hyperbole and learn to see our common humanity…

Old Comics for a 63 Year Old Second Childhood… — The Jazz Man

After my mom and dad divorced I took to accompanying my mother to the grocery store each week…for several years. I liked to help her and to, perhaps, pick-up a savory delight that my young palate craved. I also throughly enjoyed buying a 12 cent comic book. Actually they were a dime when I began […]

Old Comics for a 63 Year Old Second Childhood… — The Jazz Man

The Haunted House

We could see our breath as we walked the sidewalks of Eldorado! The windows had candles in them and the front porches had smiling Jack-O-Lanterns with a candle in the hollowed out middle of each to illuminate their sinister grins! Parker and Chet were following closely with me, Porter, and they both were taken with the spirit of All Hallows Eve! There were the typical costumes of Frankenstein and Dracula and the Wolfman…as well as contemporary outfits depicting President Kennedy and Jackie along with Russian Premier, Nikita Khruschev. We even had a classmate who was dressed up as the bomb…the Cuban Missile Crisis had ended just 3 days before Halloween! Our parents had all feared that we were going to be blown-up by the Russians…and our bomb drills at school had been daily! The bomb costumes were little more than bed sheets or cardboard that had been cut out to look like a cylindric weapon with a warhead drawn on the top of it…where the wearer’s head was. Everyone was breathing a sigh of relief that President Kennedy had exhibited the courage to stare down the Russians and that they blinked first… We were on our way to Eldorado’s well known Haunted House! It was a large victorian style home on Illinois Avenue that was directly across from the High School. It was said that no one had lived there in 20 years. Chet commented that he often saw faces in the long single paned windows as he was walking to Hillcrest School. He noted that although he had waved at the faces…they neither responded in anyway or returned the wave. When they arrived at the desolate yet magnificent structure they noticed that there was one candle in the upstairs window.

The lights of the Eldorado High School football field created some comfort for the 3 as they walked up to the front door of the Haunted House. Parker looked thorough the leaded glass of the front door and saw a fire dancing in the living room fire place. The fire looked inviting as it had begun to snow…on Halloween. When they entered the front vestibule of the house they heard a jolly gentleman’s voice laugh and extort them to enter and enjoy some freshly cooked popcorn balls that his wife had just prepared! On the davenport was a rotund man with a full white beard and he and his smiling wife…both dressed in red… The lady of the house asked each of the 3 their names and then told them to call her Mrs. C and her husband Mr. C… She noted that they had both been busy all day in the toyshop and that this was their busy time of year! Porter asked if they made a lot of toys…and Mr. C laughed heartily as fragrant smoke curled from his Meerschaum pipe! ‘Why yes Porter we have a heavy work load all year round…but especially so… once fall arrives,’ said Mr. C. We actually are visiting my brother here in Eldorado…and his large home is more than adequate for our projects. Mrs. C referred to her brother-in-law as K and mentioned that he was upstairs and that he liked to keep to himself until Christmas gets a little closer… She went on to say that he was European and that they did things a little differently than we do.

K was often a companion of Mr. C and frequented; Austria and Bavaria and Hungary…along with Northern Italy…at times. Suddenly K called out to the downstairs throng and bellowed, ‘Do I hear the voice of children?’ Mrs. C called out for him to stay upstairs and not interfere with her and Mr. C’s visitors as they were some nice young people enjoying fresh popcorn balls and Halloween.

Peeking around the newel post of the elaborate stair way banister was a creature with the face of a goat. As he stepped into the warm living room his cloven loves tapped on the wooden floor. He smiled and his long red tongue seemed to reach half way down his hairy chest. ‘Krampus,’ said his brother with some mild irritation…’do not frighten the children…’ Krampus replied that he was out of hot chocolate and he wanted to get some more…and asked Parker and Porter and Chet to join him in the kitchen and he would pour them up each a large cup…full…with marshmallows…

Enjoy Today! — The Jazz Man

October is whisking by too quickly! I was taking photos of the lovely leaves on the SIUC campus on Sunday…and when I returned to engage in some additional photography I noticed that the brilliant colors of the leaves and their abundance on the trees had already changed. Usually my birthday week, October 24th, is prime […]

Enjoy Today! — The Jazz Man