Monthly Archives: October, 2019

The Joys Of Fall II

Please enjoy The Joys Of Fall II!

The Jazz Man

So, Billy B. was frozen as he watched his ghostly father filming himself as a child and his mom, Jane.  Try as he might…he could not move his limbs.  Finally, Jimmy D. shook him and the apparition disappeared.  Billy fell asleep immediately and slept the sleep of the dead!

The next morning Jeff D. was in charge of breakfast, and it was delicious!  Bacon and sausage along with eggs and grits and homemade biscuits, that Billy B. constructed, and the luscious aroma of campfire coffee…was almost more than the senses could absorb!

Billy had almost forgotten the frightening images that he had seen the night before and assumed that it must have been the moonlight playing tricks with the shadows of the campfire?  When all of the sudden…Ronnie B. piped up and announced that he had seen three ghosts last night and that although he needed to pee during the…

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62 Is Fast Approaching!

Yes, it is true…on the 24th of this month I turn 62!  Time has always passed quickly for me, but since I retired…it is rushing by like an out of control locomotive!  I can recall thinking that my elders, when I was young, were so old when they were 62, and now I am there….and it does not seem so bad.

I remember a minister, who I was fond of, taking his shirt off and demonstrating for several of the teenagers in the church that he could lift a 170 pound weight over his head…and he was 40 years old.  I do not think that I could have lifted that much weight over my head when I was 40.

Many of the children that attended the little non-denominational church that I attended through my teens and 20’s, now, not only have children but their children have children!

Several years ago we were blessed to have the opportunity to renew our friendship with our dear friends from the early 1970’s, Margo and Jeff, and as we visited I contemplated that it seemed that no time had passed between us…when in reality it had been more than 20 years since we had  been together!

One of the most enjoyable privileges of retirement is the opportunity. to have time to think and reflect.  Life whirls by so rapidly that it can make you wish for a chance to have some time lapse photography at your disposal.

I grew up as an only child and subsequently learned to do many things by myself.  I discovered games and activities that did not require anyones participation but my own.  However I was so pleased to learn in February, 2012 that I did have some siblings that were interested in contacting me.  I saw my lovely sister, Jolene’s photo on Facebook, the other day and I had to share it on my page.  My brother Brock, who is the youngest of the Brooks lineage, while I am the oldest, is coming to see us, along with his sweet wife Marcy, who I think of as my sister, in December…and it will be a marvelous Christmas present!

Mary Jane and I agree that our sons are the center of our lives!  Aaron and Jonathon have brought us an abundance of joy and love and peace, and we continue to be amazed at their abilities and care for others.

An advantage of Facebook, of which I have been a member for nine years today, is the connection that it provides with people that you have not seen or heard from in many years.  When I logged on  nine years ago, I noticed how many of my former classmates that it provided the ability for me to connect with.  I throughly enjoy seeing their, youthful, faces and reading what is transpiring in their lives!

Time goes by so quickly that it is a bit like gossamer wings or sand in the hour glass…it is impossible to capture!  Whatever trouble or trial that you are currently enduring…will pass.  Whatever joy or happiness or blessing that you are currently enjoying…is not forever in this life…it will pass.

If you are rich beyond measure…you will leave all of your money at the mouth of the grave.

If you are poor and ill and suffering…you will leave it at the mouth of the grave.

If you are happy and content and a  lover of life and all that it has to offer…you will leave it at the mouth of the grave.

That sounds morbid, I think!  I had another minister, once, who was stricken with liver failure.  Dean and I visited him in his hospital room and he looked like a skeleton with skin stretched over it.  And he told us a story.  John said that he had thought that he felt so bad and, seemingly had no hope of recovery…that he had prayed to die…when God had told him to look at the little plant that had been delivered to his hospital bedside by a well wisher.  John said that he had watched the little plant struggle for life and turn brown and begin to whither…and then green shoots began to appear and the plant fought back to live…and it recovered!  John said that God told him that all of his living creatures wanted one thing more than anything else….life!  Dean and I prayed for our pastor…and he lived and began to gain weight and flourish.  Later he was able to receive a liver transplant and subsequently lived for several more years!

There is a bit of an anti-climatic feel to this life, no?  It races by so quickly,  that the feeling is a somewhat like experiencing  the old carnival ride where you entered a large tub and stood along the wall…whereupon the tub began to spin and the centrifugal force held you against the wall as the tub leaned sharply to the left and to the right.  You knew that this was your reality…only as long as the tub was spinning.

Could it be that this life is but a mere preparation for our endless life throughout eternity?

Keep Burning Bright

Please enjoy a Jonathon Brooks Blog!

jonathonbrooks

One light burning casts out the darkness. This light could be a match struck or a light bulb from a living room lamp turned on. My savior described himself as the light of the world.

I’ll boldly state that I used to walk in darkness. What is the darkness to humanity? I believe it is things like self-pity, loneliness, hatred, melancholy, bitterness, anger and giving up. Darkness has to do with despair. My divorce from the darkness happened when I was eighteen years young.

What is the light to humanity? It is the good stuff! It’s things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control. The list from the previous sentence is from the book of Galations in the New Testament part of the Bible. That list of good stuff helped to light up my soul when I was a teenager. It helped make a man…

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Homecoming @ SIUC

Homecoming @ SIUC

The Kickoff to the Homecoming week at Southern Illinois University was outstanding!  Interim chancellor John Dunn spoke and I was reminded of my many enjoyable conversations with him during the last decade…when he was the interim chancellor for the first time.

SIUC has undergone numerous challenges through the last twenty years, but with the enthusiasm that I witnessed today…we are on the road to recovery!

There are such wonderful students at SIUC!  Jonathon and I enjoyed a beer with Vlad and his wife Kayla yesterday at the Chicago Underground restaurant that is within walking distance of the campus.  They were such engaging people that I took courage that, all is not lost, but rather we are at the beginning of a renaissance of our university!  I was honored to spend time with them and enjoy their positive ‘can-do’ attitude!

I continue to be amazed at the maturity and clear-headedness of todays generation.  They know what they want and they set about obtaining their goals.  I was amazed when I saw, Vlad and Kayla’s name on the menu board of the Restaurant.  I did a double-take and marveled that the beers that they were drinking, in real time, were being displayed for all patrons to see!  Jonathon, later, told me that they had an application on their phones that facilitated the Sunday miracle!

As I watched the serious minded students today at the Homecoming festivities…I knew that our university and our nation is in good hands!

The Joys Of Fall!

A camping adventure with Billy B. and Carl and friends!

The Jazz Man

Billy B. and Carl had decided that they wanted to go camping.  It was mid-October and the nights were chilly and the days were cool.  The relished the idea of camping under the stars with no more than sleeping bags and a campfire and Smores!  But, first, they had to purchase some sleeping bags…as they had never been camping before.  About the same time as the planning commenced…Jeff L. and Jeff D. and Doug D. and Steve L. and Jimmy D. decided that they wanted to join them in the adventure!

The camping excursion, in the midst of the Shawnee Forest…had become a group effort.  When Billy B. and Carl entered the local Wall-Mart in DuQuoin, Illinois to find the perfect sleeping bags they were undecided when they were confronted with no less than 20 varieties.  There were thermal sleeping bags and canvas sleeping bags and sleeping bags for two…

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The Hero in this Story Enjoys Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwiches

Here is a great story, from a skilled storyteller!

jonathonbrooks

The boy was instructed to write a one page essay for his English class. He was sweating exclamation points because he did not believe he had it in him to write a page about anything ever. The theme could be any subject matter of his choosing. This young gentleman was in the fifth grade. He had yet to experience all of life’s beauties and wonders. In his heart, he knew if he was a twelfth grader he would be able to write the greatest essay ever created. At age ten he lacked confidence or moxie.

Alas the clock on the back wall was ticking like a bomb. No man or child has yet to beat the clock in a fifth grade English class. Not even Superman has skills to defeat time. Tick tock.

With a silent burst of inspiration the boy’s imagination caught fire. It started to burn the page…

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The Cold Front Has Arrived!

A few days ago it was in the 80’s…now it is 49 degrees and falling!  I sat on my writing porch with both the ceiling fans on and an auxiliary fan on the deck floor, yesterday.  Today I have my sweater on and my Tilley Hat…and it is chilly!  This is my kind of weather, but not all at once!

I read that the other day in Denver, Colorado, the temperature dropped over 60 degrees in a matter of hours.

 

Just now there was an audible announcement from my phone that a frost advisory has been issued for my location.  Could it be that we are transitioning from summer to winter with no fall in-between?

The extreme in the weather has caused me to reflect on the extreme in political opinion.  Having considered myself an independent voter for many years, I am amazed at the extreme polarization that has transformed our elected political representatives.  Many of the Democratic contenders for the nomination to be the Party candidates for the upcoming presidential election, describe to us a panacea of benefits that, it would seem that by the uttering of their efficacy, we can have for the asking.  Now, I do believe that health care should be available to all in the United States of America.  We are one of the last…if not the last…to not have this necessary consideration as a core of our governmental structure.  But, we must remember that all governmental benefits come from the taxpayers.  The government does not provide any programs or services that are not paid for by someone.  There really is no free lunch!  However the difficulties of affording health care is exacerbated by a broken system that has no consideration for the working middle class and the poor.

The Republicans and their president, especially of late would have us believe that it is alright and a normal way of doing business, for the president,  to seek assistance from foreign countries…in the process of digging up dirt regarding a Democratic candidate that he perceives as his primary rival for the 2020 presidential election.  After the release, by the president, of notes taken representing his telephone conversation with the president of Ukraine…shortly thereafter he publicly called on China to assist him in he same dirt digging endeavor!  Finally the president has withdrawn the support of the U.S. troops in Syria and left our allies who fought by our side in the defeat of ISIS…the Kurds….to die…and they are doing so as I write this blog!

The president contends that the Kurds were fighting for their land.  During World War II…when we fought alongside the English…they were fighting for their land!  As we fought with the French and the English and all of our allies…would it have been acceptable too, suddenly, withdraw…and leave our friends to die?

I have been associated with christianity and four communities of faith over the past 50 years.  All groups agreed on certain fundamentals that included, morality, and the precept that a leader should strive to lead by example.  All agreed that being repeatedly lied to…produced disqualified leadership!

I remember Watergate and the Watergate hearings…I watched them throughout the summer that they were telecast in 1973.  President Nixon would not have dreamed of saying or doing the things that our current president is doing on a daily and an hourly basis.

 

We must not buy into the irrefutability of a fellow human being.  That is why our governmental authority is shared equally among our three branches.  I have witnessed honest hearted people that accepted the cultish believe that their leader was always right.  When in reality their leader was a con man and cared little about his followers accept for what they could do for him!

‘When the people saw the Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said ‘Come, make us gods who will go before us.  As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what happened to him.”    Exodus 32:1.   NIV

brown calf inside barn

Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

I witnessed religion become politics/religion and the morphing of people who are not of a certain political party being referred to as;  devils and evil!

If our Constitution means nothing…we are witnessing the beginning of the end our our country!

If the golden rule and the bedrock precepts of the Holy Bible…mean nothing….future generations will look back to us and ask…what were they thinking…and when were they blinded?

When our political leaders care more about their next election….than the people that elected them…we are in a disintegrating nation!

‘Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!   Isaiah 5:20.   KJV

I have learned that the same christianity that served my grandma Askew for the entirety of her life…is the same christianity that I ascribe to..  Tell the truth and follow the teaching of Christ that we should love each other as he loved us!

 

Note: Photos of Nixon are courtesy of Google search.

Wake-Up! I Am Not Making $5.05 per Hour…I Am Making…$5.54!

So, if you read my last blog, this is part II.  Forty-one years ago, today, I was offered a position at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale…and I joyfully accepted!  This was not just exciting news, it was earth shattering news for the Brooks, nearly, newlyweds!

When I received the telephone call that I was being offered a position with Building Services I was so overjoyed that I did not bother to ask how much the job paid.  I rushed over to our churches parochial school, where Mary Jane taught, and shared the good news with her.  Her eyes got as big as saucers and she was ready to calculate our new operating budget.  At the time I war earning $2.50 per hour and she was working on a volunteer basis for the church school….and had been doing so for several years.  We understood that we had been admitted to the ballpark and were finally in the game!

When MJ inquired as to what I would be earning per hour…I responded that I thought that superintendent O’Hara had told me that the pay was $5.05 per hour on an eight hour work shift.

That afternoon I met with the custodial supervisor, Harold Young, and he spoke with me for an hour.  He told me that if I wanted to be a success I should strive to produce a clean area that I was assigned to, each evening.  He also said that the successful Building Service staff not only were prompt in attendance…but many arrived early for their work assignment.  He mentioned that I would be earning 12 sick days per year and 12 vacation days per year and that I should not abuse either benefit.  He noted that it was wise to save both sick and vacation time to ensure that I had enough in the event of illness or a week or more vacation.  At the conclusion of the orientation meeting I asked Mr. Young what the job paid per hour and he responded that it paid $5.54 per hour.  I was thrilled with the immediate pay raise!

When I arrived home, I soon awakened MJ and told her the good news that we had already secured a 49 cent per hour pay increase!  She grabbed her pen and paper and commenced restructuring the budget.  Suddenly we had money for groceries and gas for the car and, a little, recreation money.  We also had $150 per month for the purchase of a new automobile as she had a credible Maverick and I had a dilapidated, 1962, Ford Fairlane….with a hole in the front passenger floor board that your could toss a a good size cat through!

I quickly noticed that many of my colleagues worked at getting out of work.  I set my cap to achieving excellent housekeeping and accomplishing more than was asked of me.  I saw that we were members of an elite organization…but we often acted like that we were not.  Many sought creative maneuvers to ensure that they would not have to work a full shift.  Others sought ways to circumvent the rules.  All too often the intricate machinations were more difficult than simply being dedicated to producing an excellent work product.

I pondered and considered it well that if I ever had the opportunity to hire individuals for the golden chance of working at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale….I would seek those candidates that were hungry for a chance to better themselves and and appreciation for the opportunity that had been afforded to them!

I heard, yesterday, that more of the deaf staff that I had the pleasure to hire have achieved  supervisory status!  I am so happy with the news of this necessary and right….development!

Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale has always been a trailblazer and a trend setter!  When it was not fashionable or politically correct…SIUC was a leader in diversity!

When physically disabled students had difficulty in finding a university that could accommodate them…SIUC was one of the first and a leader in disability access and an active welcome to this community.

SIUC needs to renew its intrinsic desire to be the cutting edge university in Illinois!  The university was grown out of cornfields and coal mines.  It was, ‘The University That Should Not Have Happened, But Did!’

I am a member of the board of elders at the First Presbyterian Church of Carbondale, and we are discussing what the church is going to look like in the future.  We are asking what direction is God leading us and does that leading remotely mesh with out mental image of his plan?

I was seeking an inspirational moment for my 41st anniversary of being affiliated with Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale.  As I was walking by the statue of President Delete Morris, on Old Campus,  I noticed a clutch purse on the ground.  I started to walk on for fear that someone would see me and think that I had taken the purse.  But I could not ignore it.  I retrieved the lost item and looked through it in a cursory manner and saw that it was full of credit cards and some cash and I, subsequently, turned it into the chancellor’s office at Anthony Hall.  I considered that 41 years ago today I knew nothing of the university….and today….perhaps I was able to help someone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Less Is More

Forty-one years ago tomorrow I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime.  I had interviewed for the position of Building Service Worker I, which is a janitor, and had some hope that I might be chosen for a vacant position.  I had interviewed with Building Services Superintendent, George O’Hara, and had felt good about our meeting.  During the interview Mr. O’Hara had asked me what shift I would prefer to work as he had several 11:00 – 7:00 work shifts and two, 5:00 – 1:00 shifts to fill.  Immediately I deducted that the 5 – 1 shift must be 5:00 A:M:  to 1:00P:M: and that the department probably had difficulty in filling such an early shift.  Therefore I happily announced that I would love the early morning shift as I enjoyed getting up before the crack of dawn and heading to work!  George hung his head and began placing my files from Personnel back in their folder and sadly announced that he was sorry as the day-shift positions all went to the senior employees and that all new employees were hired on either evenings, 5:00 P:M: – 1:00 A:M: or 11:00 P:M: – 7:00 A:M:.  I began to cough and, stutter…a bit, and proclaimed that there was only on thing that I enjoyed better than working early in the morning…and that was working…late at night!

 

And, so, George hired me on October 10, 1978.  I began in Thalman Hall on Greek Row on the campus of SIUC.  I knew during the first week that I was there…that God had opened a carer opportunity for me!  As I watched supervisors and managers and administrators, through the years, I noticed who was effective and who was not.  Those supervisors that felt that the more hands on supervision and criticism of their staff that they could produce…the better the operation flowed….were counterproductive in their desire for excellence.  My supervisor, Don Stonum, was a broad strokes type of leader.  He outlined for me what he expected and I proceeded to exceed his expectations.  I saw little of him….and he was happy and I was ecstatic!  Don, as well as my foreman, Jim Walls, would regularly reinforce me with positive comments regarding my work and encouragement that I could go far in the department!

I observed the quiet and solid leadership of superintendent O’Hara.  One evening he came for a tour of the Engineering and Technology building, that I was responsible for the cleaning thereof.  To me…this was like President Carter, coming to grade my housekeeping prowess!  Now, I had been extremely short of staffing for some time and the building, with my best efforts, was lacking in cleanliness…yet the superintendent told me what a good job that I was doing and how he appreciated my efforts.  I was not only humbled…but I re-doubled my efforts to return the area to its former pristine condition!

When I entered management and ultimately management/administration…I had a tool that served me well through the 25 years that I was honored to be a leader in Building Services.  Each time that I made a decision regarding one of my colleagues….I asked myself how that I would feel if that same decision was being made by one of my leaders for me?

‘A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.    Proverbs 25:11.   KJV

 

When I became a supervisor of others…and then a manager of others…I had been humbled by many cruel words and actions towards me.  I lived what it was like to be the ‘goat’ or the laughingstock or the person who was ridiculed and made fun of.  I determined that if I ever had the chance to lead others….I would treat them like I wanted to be treated.  I determined that the doorkeeper job that I had been entrusted with would be a door of opportunity of all!  All ethnicities were welcome…all physically and intellectually challenged seekers were welcome….Gay and Lesbian seekers were welcome…..

My friend of many years…chancellor Jo Ann Argersinger…said of me…that I had created a house for all peoples….and I was humbled and tears came to my eyes…as I knew that I was not worthy of such a high commendation….but I tried.

Leadership is really the heart of the gospel of Christ.

‘A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so must you love one another. ‘  John 13:34.   NIV