‘I can not believe that it is the end of June,’ said Billy B. ‘I know…it seems that we just got out for summer recess, replied Chet. ‘I have some M80s and Cherry Bombs that my dad purchased in Missouri,’ said Daryl with a wink. ‘I like the sparklers the best,’ Jane said with a laugh. ‘Have you guys ever lit the black buttons called snakes and watched them grow into a several-inch-long facsimile of a black snake,’ asked Billy B.? ‘I think that Snakes on the 4th are about as interesting as Sea Monkeys for Christmas,’ chuckled Chet. ‘Fire Crackers scare me a little…I am afraid they will go off before I am able to throw them,’ said Billy B. ‘I am looking forward to going out to your Grandma Askews’ house to watch the Starlight Drive Inns Fireworks display this year,’ said Jane. ‘Yes it will be something special…, especially with the Roman Candles dad brought from Chicago,’ Billy B. added.
It was getting dark at Grandma Askews. Billy B.s friend, Debbie, and her sister Shelia, who were Grandma’s neighbors…came over to join in the Independence Day Festivities. ‘The lights are getting blue,’ noted Grandma Askew. ”That is a sure sign that the Fireworks will not be far behind…when the new street lights began to first glow with an ethereal blue light…and then in about 15 minutes…reach the zenith of their lumens,’ said Aunt Guelda. ‘We do not have anything like this in Holland,’ said Yoop who had the rich chocolate candy that was in the shape of wooden shoes and made in Holland. Yoop…or Yoopi…as Aunt Guelda and Grandma Askew called her…was a big-boned woman with angular features and a thick accent. She was friendly and vibrant and seemed as strong as any man. ‘Yoop…have you any wooden shoes,’ asked Billy B.? ‘I do indeed and the next time that you are here I will bring a pair to show you…and if you like them…I will order you a pair…what is your shoe size,’ said Yoop. ‘Size 9…and thank you,’ said Bllly B. ‘May I have another chocolate shoe,’ asked Chet? ‘Look…they have started,’ said Jane in an excited manner. ‘I think that this is much better than fighting the traffic and people that are parked along Route #45 by the Drive Inn,’ said Guelda. ‘Who is that man in the bushes across the road,’ asked Neva J.? ‘Oh…that is my brother…Herman…answered Yoop…he loves to set off his own firework display on the 4th.’
Suddenly the sky around Grandma Askew’s home was as bright as the daytime at high noon. ‘Oh my goodness…I have never witnessed such a bright firework,’ said Grandma Askew. ‘It comes from Holland…and it is a big hit every year when homes across our land go from complete darkness…to brilliant light…in a moment,’ said Yoop with a wicked grin. ‘What makes the light so brilliant, asked Chet? ‘It is a solar flare…and only we people of the Netherlands understand its power and glory,’ Yoop answered. ‘But…it is still light as day and the flare went off several minutes ago,’ Neva J. noted. ‘The light lasts as long as the people around it…require it,’ Yoop said matter of factly.
The unearthly light of the solar flare from Holland has illuminated Eldorado for 50 years and has made the little town the tourist destination of the nation. People come from all around the United States…and indeed from all over the world to see the little City of Gold…that never sleeps.
I was reflecting this morning on my years as a supervisor/manager/administrator. First I never felt that I had the ability to perform any of the leadership positions…but God was kind to me. I remembered what it was like to work for a Boss who I could never please. More than one Boss…actually. There is nothing more demoralizing than to work your hardest and at the zenith of your abilities…and never hear from your Boss…’Good Job.’ I have started going to a Doctor in St. Louis and one of the reasons I chose him was that he said in his biographical statement that he believed in treating people like he wanted to be treated…this is a Platinum Precept of a supervisory position.
During my 32 + year career at Southern Illinois University, I was determined to work as a colleague with my friends at Building Services. Many of them were unhappy and their morale was at rock bottom. My three primary goals as Superintendent were to; Improve Customer Service, Treat each person as I wanted to be treated, and Produce Clean buildings for our precious students.
My contention to the University Administration was that if our goal was to recruit and then retain our students…we fundamentally must have clean buildings for them to attend class. To me, this singular precept seemed as natural as breathing. Telling one of our customers to, ‘Just put your foot in their overflowing trash receptacle,’ was anathema. I believed that the happier our housekeeping crews were and the more appreciated that they felt…was vital to the customer service that we produced. My motto I borrowed from the old Hertz Rental Car Commercials where they said, ‘Hertz puts you in the driver’s seat.’ Or the old McDonald Restaurant Motto, ‘We do it all for you.’ There was an additional motto that I strove to attain during my career, ‘The customer is always right.’
We spend much of our lives at work. It has been said that we spend the best years of our lives at work. We should be happy at work. It baffles me how anyone can think that good management involves frustrating the people who are performing the tasks that will decide if you are a successful department or a despised one. I have heard the excuse on several occasions that the reason a manager does not bond with their staff…or a preacher with their congregation…is there are just too many names to remember…and it takes time that they do not want to spend on the most important capital that they have in their organization… on truly knowing who in reality…their success is commensurate on. We make time for what is important to us.
As a manager, you are enrolled in the Construction Business. Be a Builder…not a Demolisher. The popular Motivational Speaker, Zig Ziglar, said, ‘I really do care how much you know…until I know how much you care…about me.’ My friend and former Chancellor, Dr. Jo Ann Argersinger, knew how to connect with all members of the University Community. She would stop what she was doing and trudge out into a field of tall grass that a Grounds Worker was mowing and shake his hand and introduce herself and tell him or her how happy she was to make their acquaintance and how much both she and the University needed them… When she was unjustly terminated…the Physical Plant came out in force to support her.
Open Door was my policy…but I was in my office a minimal amount of my day. I followed the creed, ‘The Best Management Takes Place Where The Work Is Being Done.’ I not only knew all of my full-time colleagues by name, at that time about 140 but most of our wonderful student staff, over 200. I did not do surveys…I talked to each integral member of Building Services on a personal and one-on-one basis.
A supervisor or a manager or an administrator is in the Human Resources Business. If you take care of your staff…they will take care of you…an excellent work performance will follow.
Now you may ask…Jay…did you never focus on disciplinary actions? My answer is yes…with a department of 300 -400 people, there are going to be some disciplinary actions. However, Disciplinary Actions were not my primary focus and when they occurred there is a humane and kind way to handle them. My colleague told me when she heard me terminate one of our student workers that had become very upset with her…as she had initiated the termination…that she had never heard a person perform a termination in a more kind and considerate manner and that the student not only had become calm but that he understood that the termination had nothing to do with his worth as a human being.
Praise in Public…Constructive Criticism In Private…and do not discuss what was said behind closed doors with anyone that is not essential to the mission of Building the Colleauge and making them a Roaring Success. Those leaders who have notches on their belt for the people that they have fired…should hang their heads in shame…for their personal failures in not convincing those human beings…how vital and essential and necessary to the organization that they were.
A lovely rain is falling outside the Writing Porch. Coming with the rain are welcome cooler temperatures. It has been awfully hot in Little Egypt. I was thinking yesterday about our desire to be seen and respected by our leaders… in Government or education or Church. The fallback mottos of freedom of speech and freedom of thought and that all are equal under the law…ring hollow in practical life applications. It is easy to feel lonely in a crowd. Many of us proclaim that we want and admire and appreciate diversity…and then look for people that are just like we are. This proclivity has to be overcome by our actions and determination to celebrate the wonderful array of the Human Family….with its’ panoply of colors and languages and customs.
Everyone does not think like me. Everyone sees our world a bit differently. We all desire to be known by our leaders and by those whom we respect. All too often vital decisions are made by old white people. I am an old white person. We can develop such a Tunnel Vision that we see only our personal beliefs and dogma as the correct Roadmap for our Government and our Church. We tend to think in terms of our short lives and how we want our institutions to operate during the span of our personal history. Perhaps our decision-makers are making a devastating decision…and yet they communicate with their small cadre of advisors…who think like they do…and thus all is right with the world.
Disagreeable Voices are vital! Contrary opinions are essential to the health of an organization.
‘I do not think that our pastor knows my name,’ said Jane with consternation. ‘Why is that, asked Chet? ‘He says hi to me when I see him…but I have never had a conversation with him,’ Jane continued. ‘He calls me Pal,’ said Billy B. ‘He calls me Buddy…and from time to time…Friend,’ noted Chet with a smile. ‘Well I feel the same way at School when I see Mr. I. laugh and cut up with the Jocks and other sports celebrities and when I pass he never acknowledges my existence,’ mused Daryl. ‘Mr. I. told me that I could not ‘Go Out’ for the baseball team…and when I asked him why he said, ‘Duh’ and I knew he was referring to me being a girl, said Jane in an angry tone of voice! ‘The Student Council proposed to Mr. I. that our School develop a Womens’ Baseball Team…but he summarily dismissed it along with the Board of Trustees…who all are men,’ said Billy B. ‘I interviewed for a job at the Ben Franklin Dime Store and the manager told me that he would hire me for 75 cents per hour when my friend Russel was hired last week for $1.25 per hour,’ Neva J. noted in a disgusted manner. ‘Naomi asked the Dime Store Manager why he paid women less than men…and he said because they are the Breadwinners of the family…when I went into his office on my second day and told him that I was the breadwinner for my family…he gave me a blank stare…and told me to get back to work,’ Neva J. continued.
Pounds Hollow was the place to be for Billy B. and Chet and Jane and Daryl. From Memorial Day until Labor Day…they spent the bulk of their time either on the sandy beach of the Hollow or in the air-conditioned comfort of the Orpheum Theatre @ Eldorado. Billy B. was never a sportsman but he could swim and float like a beach ball. The water was his second home and he loved it as if it was his first. Everything seemed possible to Billy B. as he meditated on life and its’ secrets while he was floating in the deep end of the Lake. In his Pounds Hollow Dreams, he was grown with a lovely wife and two wonderful sons. He treated all whom he met…as he wanted to be treated and subsequently was thought of with respect and a friend to all.
‘I love coming to Pounds Hollow…it is the most peaceful place that I know,’ mused Jane. ‘Yes, and the water is always so inviting…and room temperature on the 25th of June…just like I like it,’ Chet exclaimed. ‘Be careful of the Water Moccasins,’ said Neva J. ‘They hang out in the Deep Water,’ Daryl added. ‘Chet and I are headed for the far bank of the Lake,’ Billy B. proclaimed. ‘I am bringing my inner tube…in case I get tired of swimming,’ Chet said. ‘I will not need one…as I am buoyant as an inner tube,’ Billy B. laughed. ‘I think that I will accompany you guys…I want to experience Nirvanna, Daryl said. ‘I would not be surprised if there was not a sea monster that is similar to the Loch Ness Monster…in the depths of Pounds Hollow,’ said Chet as he swam by Billy B. and Daryl. ‘I once saw a shadow under the water that was as long as our Eldorado High School Football Field,’ remarked Billy B. ‘No one has discovered how deep Pounds Hollow is…as each time that divers attempt to measure it they get a reading on their footage meter that is different than the time before,’ Daryl said. ‘It seems that the depth of the Hollow increases and decreases on its own…with no rational or logical explanation as to why or how it happens,’ Daryl continued.’ ‘No one has ever touched bottom,’ Chet whispered in a spooky intonation.
Billy B. sat on his buddies, Ira Kaye and Ron’s, balcony at Miramar Beach, Florida. He thought of how relaxing it was to just stare at the mysterious Ocean in front of him. There were young families with their children…frolicking on the white sandy beach. He sipped his vodka and orange juice and lit the fine cigar from the Cigar Store in Destin. It was January 2022 and a trip to Florida was just what the doctor ordered. He did not swim in the Gulf in January…the water was too cold…he liked it at room temperature. Someone was waving at him from the Berm that was far out from the shore. Billy B. zoomed his camera to its fullest extent and before his eyes were, Chet and Daryl…jumping up and down and making funny faces and yelling…’Billy B…Come and join us!’
‘It has occurred to me that others are seeking to control me,’ said Chet. ‘I enjoy wearing my blue jeans but the principal at our school says that we must wear slacks,’ Chet continued. ‘It has always bothered me that I can not wear a dress above my knees and I have to measure each of them to ensure that they are two inches below my knees,’ Jane said in exasperation. ‘My Converse Tennis Shoes are twice…maybe three times more comfortable than my leather school shoes…yet I can not wear my Converse to class,’ Billy B. bemoaned. ‘It seems to me that people should be able to marry whom they love…rather than fill some outdated law that says marriage is only between a man and woman, Daryl said. ‘Why do people stare and whisper when a man and woman of different races love each other and are married, Neva J. asked with some consternation. ‘Why do we label people…rather than see them for the creation of
God that they are,’ Jane proclaimed.
‘The people that make the rules are the people that break the rules,’ said Billy B. ‘Neva J. and I attended a strict Holiness Church…and if you broke one of their numerous rules…you suffered the consequences…yet the leadership did what they pleased and broke most of their own rules…behind closed doors!’ ‘Power corrupts and ultimate power corrupts…ultimately,’ Chet said. ‘Powerful people are adept at making laws and rules that do not affect them…but rather are onerous for the poor and for those who have little resources and no voice in the affairs of the Elite, Neva J. said.
‘We live in our own reality…and often our religion colors that reality…our lawmakers’ fashion laws that are in lockstep with their faith…but it is not everyone’s faith, said The Wiz,’ Darryls’ father. ‘There is a fundamentalist outcry to return prayer to schools…however, the politicians who promise that they will get this done is not speaking of your faith of perhaps my faith…but their narrow view of the Christian Faith. They are pandering to their base of support and the other faiths or religions such as; Jewish, Moslem, Hindu…and the many Americans who are atheist or agnostic,’ The Wiz continued. The powerfuls’ wish for prayer in schools is specifically for the prayers that they approve of…not for those outside their circle of influence,’ Chet said in little more than a whisper.
‘The conflict and hate and strong words are what bother me the most when two or more people disagree on a rule or a law,’ Jane said with a tear in her eye. ‘We scream and holler and fight and rend and tear for our opinion and we do not see the human being that is disagreeing with us…as loved and of value and someone that we should live peaceably with, Chet noted with his wise words. ‘It seems that we all are true believers when it comes to the rightness of our cause…but we are blind to the nuances of the subject,’ Neva J. said with her eyes closed…as if in prayer. ‘We will never understand our fellow human family members until we walk a mile in their shoes,’ said Billy B.
I recall my 32-year and 2 months and 3 weeks career at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale with great affection. I remember working for a manager who relished misleading the University Administration. This person went on to tell me that if we did not stage a work slow down and illustrate how personal cuts had hurt Building Services…we would continually be reduced by more and more staff. He had watched other departments do what he was doing…with seemingly all success and no downside to causing our students and faculty and staff to work in unkempt and deteriorating facilities and grounds. In fact, I almost became convinced that I was the ‘Goat’ and the fool for not doing what everyone else seemed to be doing with no apparent knowledge of the ruse by the University Administration and the grudging approval of the Community. I wondered how that Administration could not realize the games that were being played with them. When it seems that everyone surrounding you believes one thing and you believe the opposite…it is a lonely life. I simply could not play with the most precious gift of a career at SIUC…nor punish the University Community for the budget shortfalls of the Leadership. I am an admirer of the original Star Trek television show and my favorite character was Mr. Spock. Mr. Spocks’ measurement of problems and conundrums was whether or not the solution was logical. The concept of demonstrating a lie to produce a truthful result was beyond me. I was convinced that Building Services must do its best…and we would ultimately be recognized for our dedication to doing a good job.
During the past few years, we have seen the same struggle with Lies and Truth. The struggle has been on live television and an attempted Coup of our Government…that almost succeeded. The Tug-Of-War has been in clear view of everyone and the old adage, ‘Do not believe what your lying eyes and lying ears…are telling you!’ I have heard a statement…many times…that, ‘God uses rough instruments to do his will.’ I heard the same illogical theory when many told me that to short-change the students and to cause the staff and faculty to learn and work in dirty buildings and unsanitary restrooms and classrooms with no chalk and that you had to kick the Daily Egyptians out of the door to enter. Rest Rooms with no toilet paper and no hand towels and facilities that no one would use… except in an emergency. Our former President said, ‘Just say that there was a fraud…we will take care of the rest.’ In other words…Lie so the truth will prevail.
‘The numbers are the numbers…numbers do not lie,’ said Billy B. ‘Donald has lost the election for Class President…by a lot,’ Jane noted. ‘Donald is already saying that the election was fraudulent and he has several tough guys surrounding him,’ Daryl said. ‘A police officer is guarding Chet…as he is receiving terrible threats,’ Neva J. said with a very worried look on her kind face. ‘I am going to do my best to be a good and honorable Class President…that is all that I can do,’ said Chet. ‘My cousin is in Vietnam…and our former Schoolmates are fighting and dying for the freedom that we hold dear…I will not fold to pressure…I have known pressure all of my life,’ Chet continued.
‘It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation…and a moment to tear it down,’ Neva J. said softly.
‘I am an avid Dreamer,’ said Billy B. ‘At times when I first awaken…it seems that my dream was reality…and reality…my dream.’. ‘I have read that there is a theory that dreams are our reality and what we perceive as reality…is merely a dream,’ said Chet with a wise look on his face. ‘Once I dreamt that I was in school sitting in our classroom…and when I woke up…there was Mrs. B. looking down on me sternly,’ Jane laughed. ‘Dad says that our dreams are often the hidden reality that we have lived in past lives or other dimensions, said Daryl. Daryls’ Dad was the 6th-grade teacher and dressed all in black clothing with a Wizards Hat on his head…and preferred to be called The Wiz. ‘Dad has written a book on the subject of Real Dreams and it was a best seller in England,’ Daryl continued. ‘In fact, Dad conducted seminars regarding the subject of Real Dreams and the Bath City Pavillion was full for each of them, Daryl noted in a hushed tone. ‘I wonder if your Dad could explain my dream of being a passenger on a ship that sailed endless seas and stopped at the most interesting…and familiar excursion locations,’ asked Billy B.? ‘He most certainly could…and I will tell him that you want to see him after school,’ Daryl answered.
The ship was rocking back and forth so violently that Billy B. could barely hold on even with grasping onto the rails on either side of the narrow hallway. Then…the Ocean calmed in a moment…and he was getting off at a nameless…but familiar store…where everyone seemed to know him by name and greet him as if he were family. ‘Good to see you again,’ said the store’s Proprietor. ‘Back for another Cruise…I see,’ said Neva J. ‘I would really like to find a good watch…this Cruise,’ remarked Jane. ‘You are looking like A Champ,’ Chet said while grinning like the Cheshire Cat of Alice In Wonderland. ‘I must have a new hat…my current one is wearing out…but then what should I expect…it is 200 years old,’ laughed The Wiz. ‘I am so sleepy…I must find a bed and lay down my weary head,’ rhymed Billy B.
‘Wake up Billy B.,’ said Mrs. B. as the rest of the class laughed. Billy B. shook himself and asked if he could go to the restroom. When he exited the classroom…there was the Ship and his friends…
‘I heard that you wanted to talk with me, Billy B.,’ said The Wiz. ‘Yes I do sir,’ Billy B. answered. Is what we are experiencing right now…a dream or reality,’ Billy B. earnestly asked. ‘What do you think that it is, Billy B.’ asked The Wiz? ‘It feels real most of the time except for the unexplainable fact that the inside of the School is much larger than the outside…and I know because I have measured both,’ said Billy B. ‘Art is my savior when I am thinking about my reality…it expresses both my dream life and what I believe that I am living as a form of reality,’ said The Wiz. ‘The finest of Art is an expression of what the artist saw when she or he was painting the Piece,’ The Wiz continued. ‘Vincent van Gogh painted his masterpieces that way that he saw them,’ The Wiz said with a sly grin. ‘Many reported that they have seen Aliens and indeed…have been abducted by them…while others see their deceased loved ones…as if they were alive…and the love ones speak to them,’ The Wiz said softly.
Billy B. thanked The Wiz for his wisdom and exited the School Room and found Jane who said, ‘where ever have you been Billy B. I found the perfect watch! ‘This Boat is Rocking…,’ exclaimed Chet…
‘Please join me for dinner…in the Banquet Hall…I hear that the desert tonight is…Baked Alaska…,’ said Phillip K. Dick…
In Eldorado, we knew the difference between lies and truth. Residents of Eldorado worked hard for their pay and did not suffer fools gladly. They were in the midst of a terrible war in Vietnam…and Americans were dying daily. It was not a volunteer Army…you were drafted and most poor and middle-class people had to go. Most of them went to church on Sunday and expected their neighbors and friends and those with whom they did business…to be honest, and not insult them with Banal Lies. They understood that lies were real and that people lie…however, they did expect the lies to be creative and somewhat believable. They understood that there were ‘Snake Oil Salesmen’ and Grifters and Confidence Men…and they were on their guard because often there were wolves in sheep’s clothing. Not often did a person tell Eldoradians that they were going to lie to them…and then tell them the lie…and they consequently buy the lie as if it were the ‘Gold of Ophir’ that the Bible speaks of.
‘Donald says that if he is elected Class President…he will ensure that all of us receive A’s on our report cards,’ Daryl said. ‘I do not think that he has that power or the ability to perform such a difficult and unethical feat,’ said Jane. ‘He may not…but he seems to be gaining support daily as he repeats his false claim, Billy B. replied. ‘I want only white people…Caucasian students and white teachers in our school…no people who are not Americans,’ Donald proclaimed with a bugged-eyed intensity! ‘Once I am elected as your Class President…I will not allow students or teachers who are against us…who do not love America…to continue at our school,’ Donald went on to say.
‘I spoke with my Dad, The Wiz, who as you know is the instructor in our sixth grade, that Donald is a poor student and has failed sixth grade once and thus is repeating the 6th…this year, said Daryl. ‘Susie told me that Donald attempted to forcibly kiss her and slammed her against the lunchroom wall…and that she is afraid of him,’ said Jane. ‘Did she report him,’ asked Billy B? ‘She did report him but Mr. I. is a supporter of Donald’s Class Presidency… responded that although he would look into it…he wondered what Susie had done to cause Donald to want to kiss her…he asked if she led Donald on,’ said Jane.
Election Day had arrived and Donald had begun posting photographs of students who were African American or Hispanic or Handicapped…and they had the caption…’Restore Our School…We can do Better.’ Ethnic students or students who were a bit different from the majority began to call in sick to school and were afraid to attend due to the catcalls and threats that they had to endure from Donald’s supporters.
Many of the good citizens of Eldorado were dismayed at what was occurring in their school. Most were against the Bullying…and Banal Lies and Hate Speech of the student…Donald. But…others thought that Donald was tellin’ it like it was…and that he was saying what they had been thinking for some time. Chet had undergone daily Bullying and insults from Donald and his supporters. He had seen Donald at Dad’s Restaurant and Donald had been affable and slapped him on the back and told him that he was a good man but that he had to tear Chet down in order to win the election. ‘Can we just be honest and be truth-tellers, asked Chet? ‘Truth Tellers are Losers,’ Donald said with a wicked laugh.
Eldorado was up in arms and now almost evenly split between the people who thought that Donald was a ‘Breath of Fresh Air’ for their school…and those who believed that Chet would be the best person for Class President due to his honesty and humility and wisdom.
Now…it was time to count the votes…
When I look back on Fathers Days of Years, the realization hits me that a year goes by quickly. We are nearly halfway through 2022. We put off to tomorrow what we can do today…and before we know it…it is tomorrow. When we arrived at Mary Janes’ in Cape Girardeau…they told us to be prepared for a 45-minute wait…but we could eat at the bar immediately. The Bar was fascinating. I have never sat in front of so many colorful bottles of liquor. Some with names that I had never heard of. There were three people behind the bar…but only one performer…the head bartender. I watched as he created a Smoked Old Fashioned and marveled at his skill and theatrical ability. Simply being party to the performance…made me want one. As I perused the multitude of bottles I noticed several of the same types of Bourbon on the top of the shelves. When I inquired as to their availability he told me the story of how he had traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to hand pick the bourbon that was drawn directly out of its barrel…and that in the corner was the barrel…and that he had 250 bottles, to begin with…but now only 30 remain. There was also the bottle that was next to the group and it represented another unique and rare Bourbon. The gentleman sitting next to me at the Bar said that he belonged to a Bourbon Club in St. Louis, Missouri. he had been a single malt Scotch man before converting. Another gentleman sitting nearby commented when I explained what the bartender was doing when he smoked the Old Fashioned, ‘That is Old School.’ I agreed heartily…
The mood was light and the conversation flowed freely @ Mary Janes on Fathers’ Day. When the fellow who said that it was Old School, regarding the Smoked Old Fashioned got up to leave he wished me happy Fathers’ Day and told me to enjoy my day and it was good that I was sitting at a nice Bar and having a drink or two…and that I deserved it. I was impressed with how nice he and his wife were. We need so much more talking and perhaps a drink to oil the gears of conversation…rather than catcalling and fighting and rude hurtful rhetoric and conspiracy theories. Committees are formed and studies are written and lofty goals are set…to rid the world of racism and hate and the lies that we have been told…when a longer Bar…or a longer table…and the honest conversation of the humble are what we need.
Donald was a bit introspective. When he thought of others he thought of them through the mental prism of what they could do for him. Chet and Billy B. had befriended Donald… but could not help but notice that he took advantage of many of their fellow classmates. Donald was running for Class President and he was being especially nice to those kids that he believed would vote for him. There was another group of kids that wanted Chet to run for Class President. Chet was very well thought of for his kindness to everyone and his wise words and considerate demeanor. He also was a minor celebrity for his rendition of the Lost In Space Robot at many class social functions and in numerous school plays. Chet had poor eyesight and wore thick glasses and often held a book he was reading…close to his face. Donald, who was a basketball player and a letterman in three sports…was a jock. At a Class President Rally just a day before the vote…Donald said, ‘Do you want me for your President…an avid sportsman and Herculean ability…or do you want ‘Wet’…his nickname for Chet…to be your President…when he can not see his hand before his face…and you never know when he is looking at you through his ‘Coke Bottle Glasses?’ Many of Donalds’ Supporters…laughed…but most of the Rally Crowd was hushed… Some in the crowd admired the humble manner that Chet exhibited when he was publicly made fun of by Donald. Others thought…’Survival of the fittest…and may the best man win.’
We had a lovely visit with our Traveling Buddies, Ira Kaye and Ron, this afternoon. Pheasant Hollow a Winery that is in a beautiful rustic area with some superb wine to offer. We discussed future travel plans to Maine and as always enjoyed each other’s company. I reflected on how blessed we were to have such good friends. I always think of my Dad on this penultimate day before Father’s Day. He used to arrive home from work and hoist me onto his shoulders and carry me around the house and I felt like the king of the world. He wore a motorcycle hat and a leather motorcycle jacket and he looked like a benevolent tough guy. I can remember him pushing me on my tricycle. I was very young. He had a great laugh.
Dad would drive the Harley Motorcycle and I would sit in the middle of the big leather seat and mom behind me. The big Harley had saddlebags on the back and it was a joy to ride on it with Dad and Mom. We rode all the way from Sauk Village to Eldorado, Illinois on the one-holiday trip. When we arrived I was certainly tired and soon was at Grandma Askews’ kitchen table drinking a large white porcelain cup of whole milk…and boy did it taste good. Dad was a bit of a hero to moms’ sisters and Uncle Bill…Wandas’ husband. He was a Junior and this is the name that Mom’s family referred to him as. When Uncle Bill would see Dad he would begin to work his tongue in and out of the gap in his lower teeth and grin from ear to ear. Now Uncle Bill often grinned and moved his tongue between his teeth…but it was unique when he saw his buddy…Junior. Dad was a World War II Vet. He served in the Pacific Theatre. He and Mom came from the Mount Vernon and Ashley area and they had migrated to Chicago shortly after they were married…to obtain work. Mom worked in the Hilton Hotel as a Switchboard Operator and on occasion put a call through for Conrad Hilton…himself. Dad was a Semi Truck Mechanic. We had a great house with outstanding neighbors and lived the early 60s dream of suburban life. I often compare it to the popular television show of the time…Leave It To Beaver.
Dad came from the country but he looked like the city. He was a bit of a mobster… to his effect. He carried a concealed weapon without a license and he was tough without talking about it. He sent Mom home some carved wooden boxes that the natives of an island that he was on during the war had carved. Mom feared that he had been intimate with some of the girls on the island after she saw photos in a National Geographic Magazine. He enjoyed Pall Mall cigarettes and smoked four packs of them a day. He came from a life-shattering War back to a land of milk and honey and little understanding of its’ proud and faithful warriors.
As I grow old I wonder what Dad thought when the vagaries and challenges of life confronted him. There was not anyone to talk to about the concerns of life…men were just supposed to suck it up and march forward…much as in World War II. I can recall when someone saw a man cry…they thought him somewhat of a wimp. So…this Fathers’ Day MJ and I have the lights of our lives…Aaron and Jonathon…our sons. They bring us such joy and peace and contentment…and our constant delight. I wish that Dad could have met them.