As I am writing, the chill factor for Carbondale, Illinois is 26 degrees! We have gone from dry weather, a few weeks ago, to long heavy rains. Jonathan and I were in the Student Center, this afternoon, and I noticed several students and staff dressed up in Halloween costumes. The atmosphere was joyful and light! A lot of laughing and photographs were being shared.
Although it is the coldest day of autumn…thus far…I felt the need to snap a few photos of campus woods on this first holiday of fall.
Our great campus has always been blessed with outstanding people who have an unflagging and unfailing dedication to the success of ‘their campus’…and yet often they are overlooked for a, ‘miracle worker,’ who has no particular love of SIUC or affiliation for Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale…and who stays for a short time and then moves on to greener pastures!
I witnessed chancellor Don Beggs, who had a two year appointment as the leader of our campus…passed over…when it was clear that he was a glowing success and that he was turning the great ship of SIUC around…and that he and his dear wife, Shirley, were loved by all members of the university community. Dr. Beggs had turned the enrollment slide around, and at that time we had 22 thousand students on our campus.
I saw it again when current interim chancellor John Dunn was our provost and had been elevated to interim chancellor. The campus was running well under interim chancellor Dunn’s leadership and he would have loved to have had the job on a permanent basis…but he was told that he could not apply!
We had around 19 thousand students when interim chancellor Dunn was our leader in the last decade.
There is a school of thought, that practical people engage in, and that is…if it is not broke…do not fix it!
Or, there is an old christian hymn regarding the crucifixion of Christ that has a line in it, ‘Some times it causes me to…tremble…tremble…tremble!’
So, the October event is upon us! All Hallo Eve! We enjoy the childlike wonder of the day and the promise of what this harbinger of holidays brings!
This is a day for fun…and thoughts of childhood and the mystery of becoming an adult!
It is a day to wish that our university leaders would think a bit pragmatically and examine what has gone wrong at our great campus and how to correct it.
Is it possible to have an effective leader or administrator or manager or supervisor….and to subsequently forget how effective that they are and…rather to embrace the politically expedient?
Everything that we do is not transactional….and our leaders decisions can have dire ramifications that affect all of us!
A 1960’s Halloween!
The third grade class was all abuzz with the excitement of each student wearing their Halloween costume to school! It was cold…unseasonably cold for October the 31st. Also, there was 4 inches of snow on the ground! Snow on Halloween was not so unusual in the early 1960’s. What made the day, even, more special was that the teacher, Mrs. Molinarolo, who had lived in Japan, was dressed as a Japanese Geisha.
Carl, who had of late been referring to himself as, Chet, was dressed in his famous Lost in Space Robot costume, and with his perfect rendition of, ‘That does not compute,’ he was gathering crowds wherever he went!
Billy B. had arrived as Frankenstein…courtesy of his cousin, Gene, who had allowed him to borrow both the full head/mask and the Frankenstein hands. Frankenstein kept proclaiming, ‘smoke good,’ as he carried an unlit cigar that his dad…had left behind.
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I was watching a television show on Showtime, last night, called The Affair. One of the primary characters, Noah, had decided that rather than flee his home and loose all of his possessions, in California, he would stay with his accumulated stuff…of a lifetime…and burn-up…if necessary! The character of his ex-wife, Helen, pleads for him to join her in an attempt to escape the flames…but he adamantly refuses. Later in the hour psychological drama…Noah startles Helen as he raps on the window of the luxury automobile, that has a safety button for bio-warfare…called an apocalyptical button! Helen asks him why he has changed his mind about leaving and he responds that, ‘movement is life!’ She decides to accompany him on an attempted hike out of the canyon that is on fire, rather than wait in an unmovable traffic jam. Helen had picked a young couple that was attempting to flee on foot and they decide to stay with the bio-warfare protected automobile.
As Noah and Helen proceed on a more than dangerous hike she asks him to elaborate on why he chose to escape…and he responds that he had looked at some old video of him and had realized that he had forgotten how to be happy.
Modern media purports to inform us on just what; pharmaceutical or movie or automobile or boat or travel…will ensure our happiness! So often we believe that if we can just purchase our dream home…our recreational vehicle…or the finest of clothes and cuisine…we will finally reach nirvana!
Much as Charlton Heston proclaimed at the conclusion of the Apocalyptic movie, Soylent Green, ‘Soylent Green is people!”….I believe that, ‘Happiness is people!’
The more that we can get out of our own heads and raise our eyes from our smart-phones…the happier we will become.
There are two streams of thought regarding christianity…especially in the United States of America.
There are those who believe that God is a God of judgment and wrath and fire and fury. This doctrine espouses that the path to heaven is narrow and there is no room for divergence from the interpretation of scriptures that the leaders or founders of the faith have set forth. These groups attest that if you do not believe the faith walk that they are on…you are lost! Many of these churches, which are often small in number of congregants…have no provision for members of the human family who have never been able to hear their, exclusive, precepts of faith….and, frankly, God is not worried about the billions of people that are lost….but rather he has his eye on a select remnant.
The other stream of thought would be that christianity is for all humanity and the creator’s mind is much larger and more inclusive than the petty prejudices and misogyny and xenophobia of some humans. God is a God of love and acceptance and forgiveness and desires for adherents too, ‘Love each other as I have loved you.’
Happiness comes from uplifting someone in need. It comes from listening to someone who is sad. It comes from making a meal for someone who is sick.
Happiness comes from loving your fellow traveler…who looks different than you…who worships differently than you do….who thinks differently than you….who loves differently than you….and who needs you to reach out to them!
We can choose to find meaning and God and hope and purpose in fashioning a god that agrees with all of our hatred and prejudice….or we can fellowship with a God that loves all of us…and wants us to be happy!
The young couple who stayed in the luxury automobile that had an appocolyptical button to ensure safety from bio-warfare…burned-up…in the television show.
“MOVEMENT IS LIFE!”
I have been aware for some time that I needed to diet. However, Jonathon and I were ushers this morning at our church and a wonderful lady of the church commented that I reminded her of Friar Tuck. Now, the Friar was a portly fellow…and I could see the resemblance!
I wold prefer to be Robin Hood!
Being an usher gives the volunteer a birds eye view of the members of your congregation. There are many members of our congregation that are of great age! We have members that are in their 90’s, or are close to being so. When I see them walking in, haltingly, and with a big smile on their face..I understand what a dedication to the christian faith…means! Often we are buffeted by the political or social or religious whims of the moment…when a christian that is well into their golden years…can illustrate what a lifelong walk with Christ looks like. When I witness the elderly among us…present themselves at Sunday church service…no matter how difficult their mobility has become or how weary they may feel…I am inspired!
So often, we young people…of which I am 62, feel that we have other ‘fish to fry’…or something more important to accomplish than the weekly routine of attending church. We know that we need to have our ‘down time’….or time for our hobbies…or time to prepare for the next work- week…when it reality the best preparation for the incoming challenges of the week is Sunday morning worship.
Modern media would have us believe that we can seek and discover pleasure in; pharmaceuticals or the latest Hollywood movie…or a dedication to a political cause….or a hunger for knowledge. While all of these are a part of the human experience they really do not answer the persuasive question of…why was I born and what is my purpose on earth? Many of us strive to find that purpose of our existence in our work. We believe that if we will just work hard enough and long enough…we will have reached our calling in life! While, others of us know that the, ultimate, satisfaction and reward for a life well lived, is too to enjoy retirement and all of the pleasant vicissitudes that it affords to us. Travel and boats and automobiles and campers and motorcycles and more….is the panacea and balm for our hard working years and our dedication to keeping our noses to the grindstone!
Yet, there are the hungry and the homeless and children in cages and rampant and heartless bigotry and misogyny and xenophobia and cruelty….to our fellow human family! The earth is burning…and we are watching!
When someone tells me that I have helped them…in some small way….I have peace. When I travel across the world…I enjoy it…but it is not the same as helping another member of the human family!
The perfect trifecta of movie attending bliss almost occurred today! I noticed on my AMC Stubs account, a theatre card that I carry that affords discounts based on how much money you spend, that I not only had a $5 reward off of the price of a movie…but also a free large popcorn and a free large soft drink…due to October 24th being my birthday! So, I entered,, triumphantly, the theatre lobby, whereupon a young man asked me if I had a ticket? I replied that I did not but that I was going to purchase one at the counter….that has a large sign regarding purchasing tickets. I handed the, friendly, attendant my AMC Stubs card and announced that I not only had a $5 reward but also a free large popcorn… Suddenly another person set down on the counter, hard enough to dislodge the popcorn from its large container, and a large beverage glass! I said, ‘One please for ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,’ and I thought that the title sounded familiar. As I gingerly juggled there humongous tub of popcorn and the giant Fanta soda, as I made my way to theatre #3 and seat F2.
The movie previews were already on, so I settled in and prepared to be frightened…in the enjoyable Halloween sense of the word! About 2 minutes into the flick it occurs to me that Aaron and I had seen this movie earlier in the summer. I suppose that the theatre chain had brought the film back for a repeat performance due to the coming of Halloween? The first time that I viewed it…I mildly appreciated it…now I set forth to research it in greater detail…
It did not compare to the 1963 classic, ‘The Haunting!’
‘The Haunting of Hill House is a 1959 gothic horror novel by American author Shirley Jackson. A finalist for the National Book Award and considered one of the best literary ghost stories published during the 20th century, it has been made into two feature films and a play, and is the basis of a Netflix series. Jackson’s novel relies on terror rather than horror to elicit emotion in the reader, using complex relationships between the mysterious events in the house and the character’s psyches. Wikipedia.
The 1963 movie, ‘The Haunting,’ is by far the best film adaptation of the book. The film had Julie Harris playing the part of Nell…and it had a scene that has stayed with me since 1963…when I saw it in the theatre…and I was 6 years old. Nell and, Claire Bloom, playing Theodora were sharing a bedroom in the haunted Hill house and were sleeping in two single beds. They were members of a small group of people who were aiding a paranormal investigator in determining if ghosts could be verified in the scary gothic mansion. As Nell and Theodora were sleeping…Nell awakened due to someone holding her hand…which was dangling over the side of the bed. Upon being awakened…Nell began to speak with Theodora…who was lying in the other bed. Nell pleaded with Theodora to not squeeze her hand so tightly…and Theodora turned on the bedroom light…to reveal that there was no visible person grasping Nell’s hand!
The twin beds, that had been pushed together, had been moved far apart…at either end of the large bedroom.
When I first saw the Haunting…I was 6…now I am 62…and I still will not let my arm and hand dangle over the side of my bed!
Photos from The Haunting are courtesy of Google search.
Halloween is quickly approaching. When this ghostly time of year, appears, I feel compelled to write my best, true, account of a ghost story that I know.
During the latter 1980’s I was the assistant superintendent of Building Services on the campus of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. During those years there was a large Malaysian student population on our campus. In fact, our entire student housekeeping staff at Anthony Hall were Malaysian. Now, the Malaysian people are simply lovely human beings. I had a student worker whose name was Salman, when I was the crew leader at Parkinson and Allyn buildings, in 1980. I was training Salman, on the third shift and on the third floor or Parkinson Lab. I began my lecture by asking Salman to ‘run’ down to the other end of the hall and retrieve a dust mop. Salman sprinted to the far end of the corridor and sprinted back with the dust mop! I smiled and explained to him that he would encounter a lot of Americans who either speak in an exaggerated manner or metaphorically.
So, I received a telephone call from the custodial crew boss at Anthony…telling me to come over right away. When I arrived he told me that one a female Malaysian student had told him that when she exited the elevator on to the third floor of the building and proceeded to turn off the lights…she looked to her right and saw a woman, sitting, and dressed in a long black dress and a white blouse with a high collar that was buttoned to her chin. The student went on to describe the woman’s hair being pinned up on her head in a bun. When she said hello to the apparition…she received no answer nor sign off recognition from the strangely garbed visitor.
Anthony Hall is named after the famous suffragette Susan B. Anthony and was built, in the 1920’s, as a women’s dormitory. Jack, the crew leader, took me into the attic and showed me old photos of women who lived in Anthony Hall. They were dressed like the spectral woman that the member of our student staff described!
Not only did our Malaysian student in Anthony Hall resign…but the entire crew did so, as well. The word spread among the Malaysian community and soon, no Malaysian would work for Building Services if it entailed that they would be assigned to Anthony Hall. The superintendent met with me and informed me that the Vice President for campus services wanted a full report on the ‘Ghost of Anthony Hall!’ Thus, I began my investigation. Anthony Hall is the administrative center of our campus. It houses our chancellor and vice chancellors.
I discovered that many of our Building Services staff had experienced unexplained phenomena when they were working in Anthony. Often these ghostly happenings transpired late at night…when they were alone…or at least thought that they were alone in the building. Several of my colleagues had heard footsteps on the upper floors…but when they investigated…they found no one. Others described the eerie feeling that they were not alone and the hair standing up on the back of their necks!
Note: Victorian photos are courtesy of Google search.
And the question is…can the old man really write three blogs about turning 62? The answer is yes. My mother told me for years, until, she reached 40 years old, the she did not believe that she would ever see her 40th birthday. She was a single parent, until she married my stepfather, who was not very fond of me, and I wondered what would happen to Bradley Jay?
My dad, who I never saw again after my 6th year of life….died when he was 60. Often I pinch myself and wonder and I am grateful for some longevity! When I see Aaron and Jonathon who are 37 and 35…I contemplate the goodnesses of God!
Birthday wishes on Facebook are a real treat for me! Nikki, who has always been so gracious to me and Aaron and Jonathon, calls me Pop, and sent me a birthday wish with a photo of, my favorite beer called Dragon’s Milk. She has served me several over the years! Every birthday wish that I receive…is very special to me…and I treasure them all!
My pastor, Kerry, sent me a birthday greeting that warmed my heart!
My brother Brock and my sister in law, Marcy, sent me wonderful birthday wishes! They continue to be a bright Star in my golden years!
I have a fundraiser on Facebook for Mental Health America and, Natalie and Jim donated in the first hour of the posting. I was honored…and humbled.
I talked with our traveling partners, Ron and Ira Kaye, and it was a joy to hear their birthday wishes!
We made the journey to Cunetto House of Pasta, on the Hill, in St. Louis. I had my favorite drink, a dirty martini, and some delicious pasta! We have been visiting the restaurant for over 20 years! Often we have waited in the queue that stretched around the block of the eating establishment!
Each time I receive a birthday greeting from one of my. former classmates…I see them just as they appeared when we were in school together.
My former pastor, for over fifteen years, Janice, just sent me a note…and it made my day!
We visited Von Jakob Winery this afternoon. I quaffed Country Red while MJ and Jonathon enjoyed dark beer. We had the most delicious cooked chips and baked pretzel! MJ and I came home, each, with a handcrafted basket for our wares. We missed Aaron…who had to work.
My birthday is a stellar time for me to take stock of where I have been and what I have done and how I can improve my outreach to others…in some small manner. I was watching the memorial service for Congressman Elijah Cummings today. He was truly an inspirational figure! The Congressman was the son of sharecroppers and is the first African American to lie in state in the the Capitol. His dedication to excellence and his compassionate heart towards his fellow human family…was an inspiration to me!
Birthday cake and pizza, this evening! A special time to think about the days of my life!
A journey through an October Woods!
I enjoyed a walk through Southern Illinois University’s Campus Woods earlier today. It was majestic and serene, as always. A gaggle of geese were happily honking as the squirrels were gathering nuts.
I have always loved the Robert Frost poem from which the title of this blog is taken. How often we need a walk in the woods to re-set our compass and to renew our goals and fellowship with God’s creation.
And so I have an affinity for the fall and the woods and the ‘vintage monsters’ and science fiction movies of my youth.
Autumn is a perfect time to reflect on our pleasant memories and to plan new and enriching endeavors to exite our imaginations and energize our spirits!
We must work to outrun the guy, below, until it is our time to exit!
A heart touching blog from Jonathon. He and Aaron and Mary Jane are the lights of my life!
A special sort of appreciation ought to be given to the ones in our lives who have loved us unconditionally and have always been there for us throughout it all. When I was a small boy, dealing with asthma, my father would wake me in the middle of the night to hand off my inhaler to me because I was having an asthma attack. My dad has been there for all of my graduations. We have the pictures to prove it. When I was diagnosed with bipolar my father visited me every day I was in the hospital. Mom came with him. I don’t believe anyone else had parents or family or friends that visited them daily. My dad has always been there with a camera and a smile for myself and our family. In two days Dad will turn 62!
In honor of Dad’s birthday our family has already…
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