Author Archive: bjaybrooks

Our Future is Bright…If We Want It To Be? — The Jazz Man

I wrote a dystopian fable yesterday…and it scared the author. I reread it 10 times or more and thought of deleting it…as it is not my genre. However, I believe the fiction that I wrote could be one of a thousands of scenarios if we do not take Covid-19 seriously! There is an old saying that you can dash your head […]

via Our Future is Bright…If We Want It To Be? — The Jazz Man

The First Year…..

Once again it was a dark morning at the Bump house.  Billy’s mom was busily preparing what appeared to be cross between grits and oatmeal…with a grayish color.  Billy greeted her with a hearty good morning to which she replied, ‘what’s good about it?’  Billy’s good humor could not be deterred as he and Chet were in the midst of working on a science project regarding climate change, and they were about to write their final paper on their study.  Billy’s dad, Junior, came in to the kitchen wearing his motorcycle hat and leather jacket…with his concealed carry Glock 9 in his front pocket.  Junior had been relegated to day-work for some time.  He recalled the halcyon days when he had a steady job in Chicago.  He had been a mechanic for the big semi trucks.  The money had been good and the lifestyle had been solid middle class in the suburbs.  He and Neva had enjoyed their upwardly mobile habits and believed that they would last forever…after all that is what they had been told…  When the recession that ultimately turned into a depression hit…it was a shock to them and all of their friends.  

Billy and Chet met in a chat room that was called, euphemistically the ‘Zoom-Room’ and began talking about their climate change project…that they had been working on for five years.  They discussed meeting in person and decided that this would not be a prudent idea as Bill had a gas mask but Chet did not.  

President Buttigieg was on television and speaking about the need for Americans to submit to being tested daily…before they leave their house.  He noted that the restrictions that the United Kingdom had placed on our visiting their country would not be lifted if we did not comply with their health and safety requirements.  Europe had made crystal clear that Americans were not welcome in any of their countries until we met their minimum standards.  Also, South Korea and Russia and China would except Americans within their sovereign borders.

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Most of Broadway had been shuttered…although they had made the decision to reopen due to their fear of economic failure.  When patrons had died in the aisles and performers on stage…the allure of live theatre had lost its luster…  

Wall Street had attempted several reopenings and had been forced to permanently close when there was not humans left to  man the computers.  It had been remarkably resilient for years…doing relatively well while the unemployment ranks swelled to over 100 million  souls…and then there was either no one to tally the statistics…or they seemed to lack importance…as the virus raged onward!  

IMG_1655It had been a long time since the Bumps had attended a physical church service in their church building.  Many had suggested that the church reopen and that the pandemic was over and that perhaps it was little more than a political hoax…  But when 3 of the founding members of the church had passed away from the virus…the leadership thought better of attempting a reopening until…and if…the virus was brought under control…

Some were old enough to remember the political and social backlash…when the virus began.

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First the movie houses shut down.  This was a pastime that Billy enjoyed immensely.  But there was Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime…until there was one to operate the sites…even though the yeoman work was accomplished by computers.  Direct TV and Dish were good at home entertainment…until few had the money to pay for the services and then the companies ceased to charge for their services…and soon there was no more service…

There had been a political and religious outcry to the governmental mandate of wearing face masks…but that seems so pedestrian now…

IMG_8514The Grim Reaper had such lovely garments on and he spoke in dulcet tones that assured the skeptical that the virus was a hoax and a scam and that they would not only be in excellent health but they should be emboldened in their righteous stand against government intervention into their God given rights of free speech and free action…  None of us knew that the virus would morph into an instant killer…

IMG_7668The epidemiologist that are left…are working on 100 varieties of the original virus.  The United States…long ago…ceased to bury their dead…they burn them in humongous pyres outside of our cities…

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Statues were erected to Dr. Anthony Fauci…throughout America…

Few that are alive now… can remember how it all began…in the first year of our pandemic…2020…

Love and Fear on the Blue Dot Planet

Please enjoy an encouragement from Jonathon Brooks!

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I was just now thinking about how love casts out fear. Our world can be a frightening place. The coronavirus is frightening. Humanity’s selfishness is frightening. Hatred of our fellow life traveler is frightening. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and a wrong doing as payment for a different wrong doing are all the frightening stuff that can be witnessed daily on our blue dot of a planet. Love overcomes these fears.

I made a dedicated decision to follow Christ out of myself and into the life Jesus had for me when I was 18 years young. Jesus has conquered many of my sins and vices and fears. Life is not intended to be lived and fueled by hatred and fear. Life runs infinitely better on love.

It is hard work to go to work on one’s soul. Change is difficult. Following Christ was not…

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Five Months Until Christmas! — The Jazz Man

As they say where has the year gone! We knew that we had enjoyed the first two decades of the 21st Century and that they had flown by. They had been composed of joy mixed with sorrow. But now 2020 was here and the door was open to the opportunities of our third decade in a time that we used to […]

via Five Months Until Christmas! — The Jazz Man

Good Times

Jonathon and I were in Plaza Records recently and we saw our friend, Matthew.  He is just an all around good guy!  Did you ever know someone that every time you spoke with them…you left the better for it?  That is Matt!  I met him for the first at a meeting of the civil service council.  At the time I  had been asked by the group to be their representative to the State University Annuitants Association, local chapter.  He was a new member of the Council. I had been a member of the elected representative body for civil service employee, for 15 years during my career.  During the 5 years that I was the chair of the group I discovered that chancellors and presidents of our beloved university were as human as I was!  They wanted good for our campus and they needed someone to work with them.  Being set apart by several layers of managerial and administrative bureaucracy…often it was difficult for them to hear the story of the staff that were directly affected by their policies.  One of the most affective answers for that break-down in communication was monthly, or more, meetings with the campus leader.  If the chancellor was on campus I usually could see them the same day that I requested a meeting.  The same could be said for president Glenn Poshard.  So many misunderstandings and knotty problems could be unravelled by the oil of collegial communication…

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The dedication of the council was phenomenal!  The professionals that comprised the group already had herculean job duties and yet chose to shoulder the massive and vital task of representing their colleagues.  I watch as my friend Elizabeth works countless hours per day…and night…to represent the civil service community and fulfill her many job requirements!  Chancellors that welcome the advice of their civil service council…tend to succeed in all areas of their administration!

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I was fond of telling chancellors that the housekeeping department knew what was going on across campus…  I would say the same for the civil service staff.  We are everywhere…and yet often unseen…in plain sight.  If you want to feel the pulse of the campus…talk to the people that are holding the patients wrist!  

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Our precious students identify with the members of the campus community that they are around frequently.  Usually this is member of the civil service staff.  I have heard countless stories regarding a civil service worker ‘being SIUC’ to lonely or homesick student…when it seemed that no one else was interested.  Our students desire to become a member of the campus community and they are searching for someone who cares about them…before they tell them how much they know!  During times of stress and uncertainty it is essential that all people that we meet know that we value them and want to help them…and that we need their help!

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Dreams of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale

I was enjoying my daily walk on the campus of SIUC today, as I reflected on the beginning of another academic year.  I remembered when my buddy, Steve and I would enjoy a breakfast before class, at the Woody Hall cafeteria in 1980.  Our good friend, Thelma, was the supervisor of the eatery and always brightened our day!  When I am low on inspiration…SIUC’s campus always fills me back up!  As I walk the campus I am returned to my youth.  I recall being so happy to be a part of the University Family.  I was a Building Custodian, which was a custodial crew leader, and I had the best job that I had ever had!  I was an active member of a school that I had admired from my youth in Eldorado, Illinois.  Steve and I were taking a course entitled Understanding Data Processing.  We studied the ENIAC-computer and data input by punch cards.  My first university professor told me that I had a significant aptitude for the subject matter and encouraged me to continue my university studies.  MJ and I had been able to sell our trailer and buy a little house in Elkville, Illinois and a new two door LTD car.  When I drove the new car to my mom and step-dad’s home I felt like I was driving a Lincoln Continental   I was so proud to be in the ‘game of adulthood’ with a new beautiful wife and the means to support her!  I had a beautiful pastoral scene painting for my mom that I had purchased at Down’s Furniture store in Elkville.  I thought that it was the most lovely painting that I had ever laid my eyes upon….

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People took an interest in me at SIUC.  I felt valued and wanted and appreciated…and I wanted to give back what I was feeling!  I had friends that had already achieved success…and when I began at SIUC I discovered the I had found my home. A colleague told me that he had spoken to all of the Building Services  foreman and that they too a person spoke highly of me.  I had not heard anything like this in my life.  I was touched and inspired.  I wondered how I could return their confidence in my work.  I saw our new chancellor near the student center yesterday and he was in a suit on a 90 degree plus day.  He was speaking on his phone and had his umbrella at his side.   I thought that this man will return us to our former greatness!

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I could not fathom that the assistant director of the Physical Plant and the superintendent of building services were offering me the position of assistant superintendent of building services.  I deemed that job…unattainable for me!  It was a bit like a dream that I was not prepared for.  I was 29 years old…but I thought that I was 50!  I was afraid…but I took the job for fear that once the door of opportunity was shut…it would not be reopened.  My supreme honor was to be cared for and supported by the Building Service Workers and Building Custodians, later called Sub-foreman, and the Building Services foreman…as well as being greeted all over town by our wonderful student staff!  

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I think about chancellors a lot, because I was friends of several of them.  I understood, first hand, how hard their job was and how valuable a good leader was to our campus.  

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I had the blessing of being able to help others during my career.  I was honored to be a part of diversifying the housekeeping department and increasing the levels of minorities and women in all levels of our organization.  A great thrill of mine was to offer jobs to both the physically and intellectually challenged.  You see the positions in Building Services were not just ‘make-do’ jobs…they were career opportunities!  To see the looks of pure excitement and joy at being hired into an organization that had a future for them…was the epitome of my time at SIUC!

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I photographed the new Saluki statue on the Saluki Alumni Plaza, today.  It was inspiring!  We may have been knocked down…but we are back on our feet! 

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Unknown — The Jazz Man

It is a hot and stormy day in Little Egypt. I am seeing more face masks in Carbondale. Southern Illinois had 100 new Covid-19 cases yesterday. There were 23 in my county of Jackson. As The Godfather said, ‘just when I think that I am out…they pull me back in!’ I wonder if 2020…will be the year that […]

via Unknown — The Jazz Man

Happy Birthday, Ron!

Saturday, we attended a wonderful birthday party for my buddy, Ron.  His daughter, and MJ and my niece, Tara had provided a wonderful setting at a winery in Carlyle, Illinois.  There was terrific food and all the wine that you desired, and a tangible feeling of love for the patriarch of our family!  You see Ron is my brother-in-law…but he seems like my brother!  I met Ron over 42 years ago…and we were both bit younger.  Throughout the years we reglary enjoyed holidays and special occasions together, but it is over the past 10 years that we have really gotten to know each other.  I recall my first thought the first time that I met him…’I like this guy!’

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As I sat next to Ron Saturday I reminisced as to our many adventures.  One of the first things that I learned about my friend is that he has a young heart!  He not only knows how to have a good time…but he knows how to inspire those that he is with to have a good time too.  Our first trip together was to Jamaica…and he talked me into climbing Dunns River Falls.  I thought that I was old at the time…and I was 10 years younger than I am now!  Ron is a little older than I.  He scurried up the falls with the fleet footedness of a mountain gazelle…while I left my finger prints in every stone that I grasped for dear life as I feared that the end was near!  

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Our family has been graciously invited to Destin, Florida by Ron and Ira Kaye on numerous occasions.  We have wiled away the hours watching the ocean and walking on the beach…and enjoying the bounty of the cooler.  Ron and I have a tradition of enjoying an afternoon at the Wine and Cheese shop in Watercolor, Florida while Ira Kaye and MJ shop at the quaint stores that are within walking distance.  We have solved the world’s problems on several visits…with the assistance of additional wine!  

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Ron is an exceedingly kind man who fiercely loves his family.  I have never been with him that he did not speak of his daughter and grandchildren and his son-in-law, Mike, in the most glowing and heartfelt terms.  He is one of the most skilled people that I have ever known.  He has built houses and wired them and he is a wealth of knowledge!  At times he and I have somewhat different political beliefs…but he always speaks to me with the utmost of respect and deference to my feelings.  

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My sons, Aaron and Jonathon, love their uncle Ron!  When they hear that there is an opportunity of visit with him…their eyes sparkle!  I have always been older than my years…and Ron has taught me to look on the bright side of life!  Whether I have been staying with him in Destin…or attending a fish fry and homemade ice cream social at the lake of Centralia…he has consistently been more concerned about everyone else happiness and well being.  

Mary Jane loves her brother…I noticed once in a supermarket in Destin that they seemed to speak a language with each other that both understood… and the rest of us watched with curiosity as to the translation.  

Ron’s face was alive with delight and his smile and laugh were prevalent during the festivities on Saturday…and we were blessed to be a part of it!

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Note: The photo of Ron and Mary Jane is courtesy of our great niece, Paige Fleeman.

Young Eyes — The Jazz Man

It has been a busy week around the Brooks Ranch! That is busy for an old retired guy of nearly 63 years. First was the transformation of our front door from a ‘true black’…which is what the gentleman called the color that he painted it just after the derecho of May 2009. The new color is […]

via Young Eyes — The Jazz Man

A Battle With Ourselves! — The Jazz Man

Mr. Rodgers began his television program each day with the song, ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor.’ I experience the sentiments of the song almost on a daily basis…especially in the midst of our 2020 pandemic. We had to travel to St. Louis, Missouri for a medical check-up, that we had postponed for three months. The people that we […]

via A Battle With Ourselves! — The Jazz Man