Monthly Archives: June, 2020

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today my mother would have been 92 year old.  She passed away in 2013.  She was born in Mt. Vernon, Illinois and had ten siblings.  Five were from her mom and dad and five were from her mother and her first husband.  One of my mothers sisters, Rosebud, died in infancy…and mom spoke of her lovingly and I thought that she knew her, when in reality she had passed away before mom was born.  It seemed that mom felt Rosebud’s presence with her…

doll with grey eyes and brown hair

Photo by James Sutton on

My mother’s family was very poor and her father was an alcoholic.  She relished in telling me that although the Askew family was poor they always had enough to eat…not like the Quinns who had to forage in the woods for persimmons for their supper.  When she became 16 she quit high school to go to work in the local shoe factory.  She earned $16 per week.  Her sister, Wanda, got her on at the factory.  She was very fond of Wanda!  

Neva June taught me to be fiercely independent!  She marched to the tune of her own drummer…and so do I…  

hands music sound black and white

Photo by Stephen Niemeier on

If mom knew that you were in need…she would help you.  She regularly gave money to family and friends that needed a helping hand.  If you had been marginalized…you were mom’s friend.  Few things made her happier than to befriended a person who had no friends!  During the last 30 years of her life she had resources…but she purchased her clothes at the second hand store.  She rejoiced in a 50 cent sweater or a $1 suit.  From Thanksgiving forward to Christmas…mom was preparing for the holiday.  We traveled to see mom and my step-father, Earl, a couple of times per month…and some times more often.  However, during the time between turkey day and Santa Claus we were instructed not to come…because she would need every available minute to prepare for the feast!  When Aaron and Jonathon came along…they were excited to see grandma Neva Junes’s Christmas tree and all the festive decorations!  MJ and I knew that they were in for a surprise…when we entered their Eldorado country home…they ran through the house and exclaimed, ‘Grandma…Grandma…where is your Christmas tree!’  Forthwith grandmas showed her grandsons her miniature two foot Christmas tree on top of an occasional table…  My childhood Laughing Santa…had long since disappeared…and the only other decorations was those that you brought with you…in your heart…

Mom liked to dance.  She liked to visit the Honky Tonks and drink slo-gin fizzes.  She was full of life and looked like a movie star!  Her family were all church goers…but her.  After mom and dad separated and soon divorced she would tell me that she and I needed to start going to church.  For the last 43 years of her life she was a christian.  

Mom had compassion for those who were hurting or marginalized or outcast.  She had a fiery temper…although she never aimed it at me…  She was one of the most adept  readers of people that I have seen.  She could identify a bunch of malarkey or a hidden agenda…immeadately!  She thought for herself.  She steered her own course.  She was a flash of brilliance in a dull drab world!

You Might Just Save a Life

A great and timely blog by Jonathon Brooks!


I refuse to live my life in fear and foolishness. Through the years I have fought hard to live as wisely as I possibly can. I learned as a boy that I am far from invincible and that life is a fragile gift best handled with care instead of recklessness. There’s a whole lot of bad in this old world and not one of us members of the human family has an immunity to the bad.

People are often prone to having invincibility complexes. We all know that the bad stuff the world has to offer is out there floating around somewhere, but we then choose to believe it won’t get to us because we are so special or smart or because we’ve lived such wholesome, or clean, lives. Our invincibility complexes lie to us. These lies can prove disastrous or even deadly.

The virus that has plagued our country…

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‘Danger…Danger…Will Robinson!’

During the mid 1960s I religiously watched the television show, Lost In Space, where the Robot that accompanied the Robinson family on their intrepid journey through space often warned Will, the young man of the family, when he detected a danger on the horizon, ‘Danger…Danger…Will Robinson…as he flayed his arms akimbo.  I am reminded of my favorite show, along with the Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits, when I consider our current reality of our 2020 pandemic.  There are 40 thousand new cases of COVID-19 across the United States within the last 24 hours.  There are spikes in Texas and Florida.  Texas is closing its bars due to the uptake in cases.  


I think that I could best describe the danger of our current susceptibility to the Coronavirus with a metaphor, COVID-19 has been hiding behind our face masks and has not learned to jump far enough to reach the next human host due to the 6 feet of social distancing.  Illinois has entered phase 4 of its 5 phase plan to return to business as normal.  Our governor has been consistently guided by the science regarding the pandemic.  We Illinoisans have been staying at home and not eating in restaurants or drinking at bars.  Most retail stores have been closed.  Schools and universities have been closed to classroom education.  Now comes the caveat of continued health and safety for our citizens…social distancing and the wearing of face masks!  I have been observing how well the face mask wearing is progressing.  It is not!  I have not conducted a scientific study but my empirical research has shown that no more than 10 – 20% of people that I encounter are wearing a face mask…and most of those are not covering the wearers nose…while many others wear their face mask proudly under their chin!    When I grocery shop I am accustomed to people crowding next to me…walking the wrong way down a grocery aisle…and smirking and laughing when a grocery worker advises them to not enter an aisle due to there already being more people than the six feet of social distancing rule would allow for… bunched up together as they shop for their groceries!  


I have no reason to believe that any event in my area of the country will be attended by individuals that take the precautions of inhibiting community spread of the virus…seriously.  I was asked recently my opinion regarding musical event in August.  I have no choice but to answer on the side of caution and health and safety…  

I listened to a young man apologize of his arrogance and dismissal of the dangers of COVID-19…shortly after he was released from hospital due to his contraction of the disease.  This is a disease that has taken the lives of nearly 130 thousand people in our country.  This is a disease that is reemerging in the Sunbelt…with a vengeance.  This is a disease that has been politicized…and people are dying…


I spent 25 years as a manager/administrator of hundreds of people.  I thought about the safety and the health and welfare of those who looked to me for guidance and a safe working environment…every day.  I am not going to change now…old habits die hard…

The Courage Of Your Convictions — The Jazz Man

Adults used to speak of many esoteric ideas when I was a lad in Eldorado, Illinois. Manners were drilled into my head. My mom told me that if I was at a friends house and they invited me to lunch or supper…I was supposed to decline at least once and perhaps twice before I accepted on the […]

via The Courage Of Your Convictions — The Jazz Man

Captivating Clouds

I like clouds.  I am mesmerized by them.  Clouds are the forerunner of rain.  I like rain!  Many years ago MJ and I were thinking about moving to Portland, Oregon.  A colleague asked me if I realized that it rained 90% of the time in Portland…and I replied…really!  On my daily walk at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale…I was in my element.  It was cloudy…

IMG_3564 2All too often the weather is a harbinger of our souls.  We find ourselves in the midst of 2020…and it has brought us not one Act nor two…but a three Act play of anxiety and confusion and sadness.  The beginning of a new decade and a year with such a catchy ring to its’ name…has left us reeling and searching for answers.  

IMG_1872 2Many of us like our lives to fit in a neat and tidy box with colorful wrapping paper and a lovely red ribbon on the top of it.  As the Coronavirus is lessening in some of our states…it is increasing in others.  The stock market plunged 700 points today on the fear of a resurgence of COVID-19.  We have a race problem in our country…that is a cancer on our nation.  We will either choose to deal with it with substantive change…or be consumed by our learned prejudice!  Our planet is experiencing a world-wide recession that is really a depression.  Times like these call for some healthy introspection and reflection and renewal…

IMG_5172 2We will come out on the other end of our 2020 Shakespearian tragedy…but we will not be the same…  Business as usual will not suffice for our walk through the roaring 20’s!  We are going to have to start seeing each other…not averting our eyes and ignoring the wrongs that we witness in hope that someone else will come along and right them!  

IMG_8162The master plan for the 20th Century cannot be retrofitted on to our 21st.  To continue to address problems in the same manner that we have always addressed them…and to expect different results…is a fools errand!  We will either learn to work together as equals and partners on our walk back to Jerusalem…or we will struggle in the kingdom of the blind until we succumb to our lonely narcissistic despair and destruction. 

IMG_1112Have you ever been a member of an office staff that worked together and respected each other and strove for the same goal of success for the organization?  I have…and it is brilliant!  It is fun to go to work each day and the camaraderie of shared purpose is enlightening and energizing!  There is no favorites daughters or sons…there is not big ‘I’ and little ‘you,’ rather there is a palatable need for each other and the skills and efforts that each bring to the organization…  The faster that we abolish our hidden agendas and self serving falsehoods…the quicker that we will jointly find solutions to the plethora of problems that plague us as we continue to rely upon our tribal instincts and beloved conspiracy theories…

IMG_2113Clouds are a marker of change… on the horizon.  Positive change is good, and necessary, and needed…as we emerge from our 2020 tragic  wake-up call…

Tightrope Walking! — The Jazz Man

Phase 4 begins Friday…in Illinois. We can eat inside the restaurant of our choice as long as social distancing is observed and tables are spaced 6 feet apart. For standing areas restaurants need to limit capacity to 25%. Indoor theatre are limited to 50 people or 50% of capacity. Outdoor venues are limited to 20% capacity. These measures are […]

via Tightrope Walking! — The Jazz Man

A Wonderful Father’s Day!

Yesterday was a fabulous and fascinating Father’s Day!  It possessed the trifecta of the components of my perfect day…Mary Jane and Aaron and Jonathon!  When those three musketeers are with me I have need of nothing!  

IMG_4996We enjoyed a Mexican Feast from Don Sol!  Then we settled back for a scary Kevin Bacon movie.  It was a prime example of a quality movie that did not receive glowing reviews…

IMG_0146I can think of nothing that has inspired me more than my family.  Since I was 20 years old my life has been revolved around them!  Whenever obstacles were in my life path…they were my reason for surmounting the high hurdles.  Aaron and Jonathon bring MJ and I…constant joy!  We still see each other, almost, daily…and we value our sons counsel and opinions.  We are planning on traveling to Maine in September if the pandemic allows…

IMG_1205I heard on the radio today that we are in the midst of a very active pandemic.  Florida is becoming the new hot spot in the nation for cases of Covid-19  with many states in the South and west of the United States exhibiting concerning spikes in illness.  For a while I was pleased to see that there were more people wearing face masks and practicing the 6 feet rule of social distancing when I did the grocery shopping…that is no longer the case.  The majority of people in our section of Illinois are no longer wearing masks…and seem unconcerned regarding social distancing.  Many speak of a fear of the second wave of the Coronavirus…I am still afraid of the first wave…which we are in the midst of!  Simply because our 2020 pandemic has lasted a few months…does not signify that we get off for good behavior!  We Americans did not believe that the plague or the pandemic would come to us…after all we have been raised to believe that we are the greatest country on the face of the earth!  The audacity of a third world virus interfering with our first world lifestyle…  But it has…and it is just getting started…

I heard a scientist and health professional speak of a growing movement to not believe science and to make light of its assertions.  Our president said, last evening at a rally in Oklahoma, that the United States is testing to much for COVID-19…and that is the reason that we have so many cases…  If that is the case…do pregnancy tests cause pregnancy?

I heard my friend, Rick, say the other day that he had been excited regarding his attendance at a Rolling Stones concert in St. Louis, Missouri…as well as the Doobie Brothers, on another date, but that both had been canceled due to the pandemic.  He felt confident that they had done the right thing by canceling the performances!  I identified with my friend,  as MJ and I as well as Ron and Ira Kaye had tickets to a John Fogerty concert in St. Louis this summer…and it was canceled…  Indeed businesses have to open up, at least in some manner, to facilitate the livelihood of so many Americans…but none of us wants to be the first test case…for a virus that can snuff out our life…like a candle in the wind!

I am the proud owner of a new Swiss Army knife that Aaron gave me for Father’s Day.  It is a ‘Boss’ knife.  The case of the cutting instrument is made of walnut.  Jonathon gave me two vinyl LP’s…one of the recently departed…John Prine, and the other the new release of Norah Jones…two of my all time favorites!


We Baby Boomers are rebels and we wear our freak flags proudly!  But we were also taught that education is vital to our success and our continued understanding of a complex and every morphing world!  ‘Science is the intellectual and particular activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.’   Dictionary


New Ties and Bowling Balls and Father’s Day

Thank you, Jonathon!


My family is always looking for a good reason to celebrate life. Christmas and birthdays and holidays of all sorts are cause for rejoicing and cheer. So this weekend is a big deal of course. Tomorrow is Father’s Day! I guess this means it’s time for many to get their dad a new tie or bowling ball. Whatever the present or presents might be; the true gift is that of a great father.

I’ve always had a friendship with my father. He has always been cheering me on in my corner. If I send him a text message then I always know there will be a speedy reply. If I have a major life achievement then I can be certain he’ll be there to smile and take my smiling pictures. If I am sad then he’ll offer words of hope and wisdom. If I’m happy then I know he’ll be…

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Life Without Strings! — The Jazz Man

When I was a lad living in Sauk Village, near Chicago, my friend, Steve, had a group of marionettes. I was mesmerized by them! Steve lived across the street from me. He would bring them over and put on a puppet show for me and a group of my 3 and 4 year old colleagues. Steve was a few […]

via Life Without Strings! — The Jazz Man

A Sign Of The Times

As I walked through the small section of Morris Library that is open to the public I saw our iconic bust of Abraham Lincoln with his necessary face mask on.

IMG_6548Campus was quiet and serene as it patiently awaits for the 2020 pandemic to pass over.  I saw my old friend, Ed, and he and I commiserated regarding how we have spent our shut in time.  We agreed that it is not as hard on us retired people…due to our lives already being much slower than they were at one time.

IMG_4392I have noticed that everyone that I encounter has experienced a transformation…we have been changed!  Life is not as simple as we one time believed…  We are all re-thinking how we conduct our business.


MJ and I enjoy art shows.  We have been art admirers and amateur connoisseurs for well over 20 years.  We are accustomed to attending these events in St. Louis, Missouri or on cruises.  The last time we attended an art event was on a Caribbean cruise in 2018.  Beginning Thursday we will be attending one through the miracle of the internet and the comfort of our home.  

IMG_6436I encounter a lot of happy people that appear to be free of the fear of COVID-19 and subsequently have neither face mask nor social distancing or knowledge of the medical fact that the Coronavirus has not taken a holiday…  Through the pervasiveness of politics and misleading political rhetoric many have accepted that false premise that the pandemic battle has been fought and the enemy has been vanquished!  I learned long ago that leaders, in politics and religion and business, pronounced admonishments of truth that were in reality hidden agendas that benefited them and not me.  I recall a manager and a university administrator presenting their perception of departmental conditions   As  I attentively listened to their counsel I began to understand that the department or the university was failing…because they were failing.  All was not lost for me, as long as I did my job and followed the rules of the organization, but in my bosses eyes everything was going down the tubes because they were circling the drain!


I had a minister that felt that virtually everyone in our little church was less than adequate and did not pull their religious weight.  As I observed this faith leader over a significant period of time…I determined that the problem was not contained within the congregation…but in the frustrated preacher!

It is possible for a political leader to speak to us from the chaos of their soul and their compelling fear of rejection and defeat.  An effective and powerful evaluation tool for determining the veracity of political leaders is their consistency of message.  Have you ever heard from someone that you thought was a your friend…only to discover that they had a hidden agenda that served their own needs and had little to do with your wellbeing?  


We are raised with a many stories.  Those narratives that inspire us to be ‘people who need people,’ as the renown Barbara Streisand sang of, truly does make us ‘the luckiest people in the world!’  As we march forward in our troubled world…let us write our story with love and compassion and the courage to hold up our fallen brother and sister, and mother and father, and son and daughter…


We can choose to live our lives in fear and distrust and conspiracy theory…or we can live in love and forgiveness and the reality of God’s greater gift to the human family…each other!