Monthly Archives: February, 2020

Situational Friendship — The Jazz Man

We all want friends. It is human to desire to connect with other humans and discover people that enjoy being with us and we with them. Often we discover people with whom we have similar interests and hobbies. Perhaps they are colleagues from work or fellow congregants at our church. I knew a couple that […]

via Situational Friendship — The Jazz Man

The Brooks Family Knows How to Party

A ,great, Jonathon Brooks Blog!

jonathonbrooks

In my family we believe strongly in birthday celebrations! In honor of birthdays there shall be trips to St. Louis and fine dining experiences and laughter and joy and Polaroids and perhaps even an extra trip to Cape Girardeau. The Brooks family takes birthday fun seriously.

My mother has a birthday today. The celebrations started on Friday. I took a three day weekend by taking a vacation day from work. Cape Girardeau and an Irish pub restaurant, Katy O’Ferrell’s, was on the agenda for Friday afternoon. Antique store shopping also found its way into the birthday mix. A grand time was had by my parents and I. Fancy beer was enjoyed, delicious food also, and some treasures were discovered and brought home from the antique shops. Hoorah hooray!

Saturday, of course, was for a day trip to St. Louis. All four Brooks’ including brother, Aaron, were in for the fun…

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The Brooks Family Knows How to Party

A ,great, Jonathon Brooks Blog!

jonathonbrooks

In my family we believe strongly in birthday celebrations! In honor of birthdays there shall be trips to St. Louis and fine dining experiences and laughter and joy and Polaroids and perhaps even an extra trip to Cape Girardeau. The Brooks family takes birthday fun seriously.

My mother has a birthday today. The celebrations started on Friday. I took a three day weekend by taking a vacation day from work. Cape Girardeau and an Irish pub restaurant, Katy O’Ferrell’s, was on the agenda for Friday afternoon. Antique store shopping also found its way into the birthday mix. A grand time was had by my parents and I. Fancy beer was enjoyed, delicious food also, and some treasures were discovered and brought home from the antique shops. Hoorah hooray!

Saturday, of course, was for a day trip to St. Louis. All four Brooks’ including brother, Aaron, were in for the fun…

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Let The Celebration Begin!

It is Birthday time for MJ.  We begin our celebrations early.  Her actual birthday is Monday the 24th.  My birthday is on October 24 and our anniversary is on March 24.  We like 24!  We made our way to Cape Girardeau, Missouri for a fine lunch at Katy O’Ferrells Publick House, graciously purchased by Jonathon.  But first, was our tour of the plethora of antique stores along the river front.

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The first store that we entered was, Pastime Antiques, and what did we come upon…but a large bronze statue of Frederic Remington’s, The Bronco Buster, and I was immediately captivated.

I had admired the Bronco Buster for most of my life and have seen it in a multitude of different mediums.  I remember Paul Sebastian cologne, which I purchased at our former Famous Barr department store, and they’re wonderful gifts that the cologne company provided with a purchase of their product….Especially around Christmas.  One holiday season I purchased a cologne for myself that was accompanied by a Remington Bronco Buster, in a small porcelain-black figurine that was suitable for setting on a desk.  I gave the replica to Ray, my boss, for Christmas and he displayed it in his office for several years.

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This weekend we travel  for a fine Italian dinner at Bella Milano in O’Fallon, Illinois and then a visit to Powell Hall to hear the great rhythm and blues singer, Aaron Neville.  A few years ago we visited New Orleans and although we made great efforts to enjoy some extraordinary jazz music…we did not.

As I reflect on the years that MJ and I have spent together…I marvel at the exciting and challenging and happy and miraculous journey that it has been.  On our first date, I insisted that we ride in my 1963 Ford Fairlane car.  It was in January of 1978 and I had a large hole in the floor board of the drivers side of the automobile and the back of my seat was held in place by a board that had to be removed by anyone that wanted to sit in the back…and then replaced.  She wore her, lambs wool coat and her cheeks were rosy red.  It was cold!

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On my first day back to work after our three day honeymoon…I was thrilled to find two cheeseburgers in my lunch box.  I thought to myself, ‘this marriage thing is going to work out well!’  When I told MJ how happy that I was with the upgrade to my traditional lunch of either peanut butter…or nothing…she said that I should not get used to hamburgers as our budget could not afford it….

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The joy of having a partner to accompany you through the roller coaster ride of life, is difficult to describe.  As we were driving home from Cape, yesterday, I said something that I had been thinking and she laughed and commented that she had been thinking the same thing.  This mind reading phenomena happens on a regular basis, in the Brooks home.

The years have zoomed by…and I obviously eat hamburger when I desire them.  But the affection that I have for my young bride only becomes greater each year.  And…she bought my birthday present on her birthday!

 

The Governor and Me

My meeting Governor Rod Blagojevich.

The Jazz Man

Having been raised in Southern Illinois, I have not had the opportunity to meet with an abundance of famous people.  My colleague, Garrett, and I were enjoying diner at Jumers Hotel in central Illinois, one evening, in preparation for a work conference that we had driven to, that began the next morning.  I observed a dignified and older gentleman pass our, ornate and virtually enclosed booth and I noticed that he had a, grand head of white hair…and the voice of the well known actors, Hal Holbrook.  I asked Gary if he could look through the, small window that was in the back of his side of the booth, in order to ascertain if our neighbor was, indeed, Mr. Holbrook.  He peered through the window and said that it looked like him…but that he could not be sure…  On our way out of the restaurant the hostess told us that…

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Dedication

The value of dedicated people!

The Jazz Man

Unless you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth…you will work for the best years of your life.  When I say the best years I am referring to your, young and middle age years…or your years of optimum health.  The alarm clock rings…and you arise for another day of toil and labor, and your mission to place food on the table, and shoes on the babies feet, and a roof over your head, and petrol for the automobile.  Hopefully within the framework of your supreme efforts there is a little funds left over for a periodic vacation and some weekend enjoyment.  Have you ever worked, sick?  What about working when there are domestic issues that captivate your emotions and cloud your mind?  What about working after you have cared for your aged parents…or perhaps your parents of parent…live in your home and instead of having young children to…

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The Spark

Sooner or later, each of us needs a boost…to get up and do what a man or woman has got to do.  MJ and I were talking with our friends, Joan and Jim, Saturday night over dinner at the Flame Restaurant.  At some point during the animated discussion, the subject came up of someone getting a vitamin B-12 shot.  When MJ asked what the B-12 shot was good for, our friends did not know…other than the person receiving the shot…felt better for it.  This caused me to remember that my mother and her sisters often spoke of people who were feeling low, or let down, or tired and in the mulligrubs, resorting to going  to their doctor and asking for a vitamin B-12 shot.  They usually returned from the experience…bright eyed and bushy tailed!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Years later, when I had struck out on my own, I became quite ill with the flu and became somewhat depleted, and rather had the appearance of ghost.  My friends advised me to go and see Dr. Fulk and told me that he would fix me up with a ‘shot that would restore me to my former vigor!’  When I met the good doctor her greeted me by refereeing to me as, ‘Little Fellow.’ He inquired what he could do for me.  I explained that I had been suffering with a bad case of the flu and wondered if I needed a B-12 shot.  He immediately administered the injection and asked if there was anything else that I needed.  My arm were the needle pierced the skin, hurt a little…and I was still tired.

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Usually, the spark needed to ignite our internal engine of inspiration…does not come from pharmaceuticals or a dose of vitamins.  I marvel at the marketing success of alcohol ads on television.  In the commercials we see happy people enjoying adult beverages…while laughing and looking as if they just stepped out of a modeling catolouge.  Or a son is inspired to assist an elderly woman with her yard work and then enjoy a drink with his mom.  Or what about the advertisements for all inclusive vacations in Jamaica or other islands in the Caribbean?  One of the spots proudly announced that you can, ‘drink to your hearts content!’  The reality photos…are somewhat different from the air-brushed!

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We do need and require inspiration.  We each have unique triggers to the activation of our adrenaline, and the positive firing of our synapse’s!  I am often inspired by the simplest of occurrences.  I have noticed, for sometime that I sing our hymns, out of our hymnal, on Sunday morning, very low.  I have discovered, recently, that my pew-mates…are doing the same.  If I get lost in the text…it is difficult to pick up the place by listening to my fellow congregants.  Yesterday, a sweet and lovely child sang beautifully and clearly and for all to hear. I was inspired!

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Jonathon, along with several deacons and elders, was installed as an elder yesterday.  I am so very proud of both Aaron and Jonathon and the fine men that they have become.  Their mother did a wonderful job!

During my over 50 years of being a christian…I have been a member of churches that almost totally focused on preparing the congregation, for the world to come…and First Presbyterian church…which works to make a difference in the world that we live in.

How will a sad and lonely world receive a ‘spark’ or an understanding or a revelation…regarding the love of Christ…will it be through doctrine and rules and ritualistic process, that demonstrates Pharisaical adherence to the jot and tittle of the scriptures…or will it be through a kind smile and some quarters that enables one of God’s children…to wash and dry their laundry?

God’s Work — The Jazz Man

I was reflecting, this morning in church, what I liked so much about First Presbyterian. As I was listening to the, lovely, granddaughter of one of my fellow congregants…sing out so boldly and courageously, during a hymn, I considered what out church believes its mission is. Jane and Bill’s granddaughter is full of the active […]

via God’s Work — The Jazz Man

New Rugs

So, we were enjoying a tasty burger at S and B’s  Burger Joint when MJ said that she had seen some nice looking rugs on sale at our Macy’s department store…which is undergoing a liquidation sale and is going out of business.  Since Macy’s was next door to the restaurant…we walked over to have a look.

I vividly recall visiting Tunis, Tunisia during the ‘Arab spring.’  It was in 2011 and our tour guide was very complimentary of Americans and the United States.  We stopped at the ruins of Carthage.  We visited the World War II, American Cemetery.  Our guide spoke of the sacrifice that Americans had given, to aid Tunisia.  Tunisia experiencing Cruise Tours…was new.  It was a direct result of the uprisings and overthrow of totalitarian governments occurring across the Arab world.  We were on a Holland America ship and they had just begun stopping at Tunis.  As our bus snaked its way down the crowded and winding streets of Tunis, many of the residents waved at us and smiled broadly.  However, I did see one angry gentleman who gave us the middle finger as we passed.  One of the highlights of the tour was a visit to a hand-weaving of Tunisian rugs.  When we entered the facility where the rugs were both weaved and displayed, or guide introduced me to his boss.  He smiled and greeted me warmly.

We were ushered into a long room with benches on both sides of it. Several women entered the room and began to distribute tea to each of us as well as sweet cakes.  Then, the hand-crafted rug show began.  I have never seen such beautiful and intricately woven rugs in my life!  The many assistants brought each rug before each of we cruisers and we could feel them and admire they’re craftsmanship.  They were simply exquisite.  The prices were exorbitant.  But, as I observed the negotiations with each prospective buyer, I noticed that the ending cost…was much less than the beginning.  Rugs that sold for $5k…were haggled down to $800.  So, as I, quizzically, observed that although many in our group quickly caught on to the fact of sliding prices…some did not.  To my amazement, the non-negotiators took the first price given and purchased the marvelous handcrafted rugs…on the spot, while others watched the dynamics of the process and held back.

The gentleman that was helping MJ and I at Macy’s, was from Philadelphia and had the singular purpose of selling rugs at the Macy’s liquidation event.  The two rugs that we purchased were 70% off their retail price.  I inquired of the Philadelphian if the, full, retail price was actually what Macy’s sold them for.  He responded that probably not but that they they were, definitely, considerably more expensive, prior to the liquidation.

The closing of our Macy’s store is sad.  MJ and I recall when our Macy’s store was, first, a Famous-Barr store.  Famous was a wonderful department store.  I purchased so many items at our local Famous, that the attendants all knew me by name and each spoke to me every time that I entered the establishment.  In the 1990s we attended the grand opening of Famous-Barr.  There was complimentary wine and horderves and our spirits were at their zenith, as Carbondale and the Southern Illinois region came out to celebrate the grand opening of such a quality department store!  I recall seeing my friends, Don and Shirley Beggs, and pondering what a tremendous addition a Famous-Barr store was going to make in our city.

Our identity with Famous-Barr went back many years before the store came to our town.  We traveled to their headquarters and primary store, in St. Louis, for many Christmases.  The establishment had seven floors of sumptuous consumerism.  On the 7th floor, during the holiday season, there were the animatronic bears.  Virtually the entire floor was the Christmas Bears in their Christmas Village.  As Aaron and Jonathon watched them, with wide eyed wonder, we knew that our Christmas was complete!

Macy’s subsumed Famous-Barr, which was the flagship store of the May Company of St. Louis, in 2006.  Sadly, the quality fell, immediately…and continued to deteriorate for the 14 years of Macy’s occupation of the space.  I remember being so shocked to see that Macy’s, which I had only know from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, was delivering lesser quality than Famous had been.  Yet…there is a profound sadness to see an anchor store in our, once great mall, closing.

However, perhaps a renaissance is afoot?  A new theatre is going to occupy the space that AMC vacated a couple of years back.  Also a new store is moving into a vacant space in our mall.  Let us hope that everything does not gravitate to on-line purchasing….There is a beauty to the tactile efficiency of hands on…store shopping.

 

My First Mentor Was, African American

My mentor and friend.

The Jazz Man

When I began working at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale on October 10, 1978, I knew no one and no one knew me.  I could not believe my good fortune in obtaining a civil service position at the University.  The position of Building Service Worker I in the housekeeping department, Building Services, had over 700 people on the test register.  I truly believed that there must have been a mistake and that, in short order, I would be notified that my services were no longer required.  As I traveled to my assignment of cleaning the Accounting building, Thalman Hall, my supervisor asked me if I had met the foreman, yet?  I responded that I had not, and he assured me that, Jim, would be over sometime during the evening.  As I became engrossed in my work…I suddenly heard a loud voice calling out, ‘Brooks’, and I stopped to see the…

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