Saturday, December 20, 2014

Postal Service and History Lesson

You are going to the post office in our village today.  Just before you get to the steps, you may notice the startled Uncle Sam who has somehow landed on his derriere at the base of the flagpole.

Then as you look up slightly and to Uncle's left, your right, you will see the cornerstone of the building.

 Now there is some history there.  I recall the name Henry Morgenthau, Jr. from my junior high school days when one learned the posts in the President's cabinet using the St. Wapniacl mnemonic.

We learned not only the posts, but of course the names of the people who were occupying those positions at the time.  Hence, I recall Morgenthau.  This was the man who said, after serving eight years in FDR's administration
 "We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work....We have never begun to tax the people in this country the way they should be.... I don't pay what I should. People of my class don't. People who have it should pay.... After eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started...and an enormous debt to boot!"
Nevertheless, Morgenthau remained in his post until President Truman appointed Fred Vinson to replace him in 1945.

The name Louis A. Simon is less familiar, but he was a noted American architect who designed many U.S. Post office buildings, most of them in Colonial Revival style, which this one is.  But he has many other buildings to his credit, including the noted Music Box Theater in Chicago and the Federal Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Mr. Melick is unknown to me.  The fate of the engineer, I guess.  But our sturdy, functional, and attractive building is darn near as old as I.

Tipton, IN : The old Post Office is downtown, a half block east of the Courthouse. The building, built during the Great Depression, has large historical artwork in the lobby, painted by WPA artists.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Day the Globe Dropped

Six-year old Margot sat primly  on the old horsehair sofa, her black patent Mary Janes gleaming, her legs encased in white cotton hose straight out in front.  On her lap, a rather worn copy of the “Bee” book.  It was quiet, much too quiet to her way of thinking, but Grammy told her to sit quietly.  Margot languidly turned a page, and as she did, her gaze, unbidden, drifted to the Christmas tree in the opposite corner of the room.  Her eyes focused on The Ornament.  As many times as she has seen it, The Ornament always took her breath away.  She gasped, her chin dropped just a bit, and were you to see her, you would know she was awe-stricken.

Grammy had told Margot just how very special this ornament was to her.  It was not simply the amazing red color—“cranberry”—Grammy said, but it was the story behind the bauble that made it special.  Grammy had told Margot,
“Your Grandfather and I, of course he wasn’t your grandfather yet, your Grandpa and I had been married only six months when our first Christmas together rolled around.  I had scrimped and saved my pennies from the egg money best I could, and was able finally to buy him a wonderful Case pocket knife.  He carried that knife in his left-hand trouser pocket every day for the rest of his life.  I wish you could have known your Grandpa.  Anyway, Christmas morning came, and he handed me the most precious little box, so carefully wrapped in blue paper by his own rough, working hands, a little green and yellow ribbon tied into a bow, the best he could manage.  And guess what was inside the box!  Of course.  It was The Ornament.  Except for my wedding ring, it was the very first gift he had ever given me, and he had chosen it himself.  I cried.  I did.  It was so beautiful, sparkling there as it dangled from my fingers, and of course I rushed immediately to our little tree and placed it there in the most prominent place.  It has never missed a Christmas in forty-two years, filling its place on the tree.  Oh, I wish you had known your grandpa.  He left me much too soon, and I so hate being alone."
"But Grammy," Margot interjected, "you have me.  And Mommy and Daddy, and Uncle Marvin and Aunt Teen."

"Yes, Dear, I have you; and I love you all very much.  But someday you may understand just how much I miss your Grandfather."

Now Grandmother is upstairs finishing her work in the bedrooms, because tonight Mommy and Daddy will arrive and they will be bringing Uncle Marv and Aunt Teen, Margot thought.  Oh, I do love Aunt Teen, and Uncle is so much fun with his magic tricks and funny stories.  But The Ornament is calling to Margot.  It is only six steps over there, and Grammy is upstairs.

Margot lays her book on the arm of the settee and carefully slides from her seat, the little blue frock swirling around her knees as she turns toward the tree.  And takes those six steps.  Fixated on The Ornament, she studies its surface carefully, noting what she already knows.  The lower portion of the globe tapers almost to a point, and on this side is molded into the body the most gorgeous star!

Margot’s fingers reach toward the glass, touch it lightly, grasp it carefully, turn it gently; and as it turns, the child sees her face in the globe, distorted into an elfin globe itself, looking back at her.  Oh!  Margot lifts The Ornament from the branch on which it is hanging, freeing its thread from the needles, and lowers it to her eye-level.  As she turns the globe slowly one way then the other, the reflection of her face grows longer, then shorter, rounder, thinner, as the tip is turned toward her chin.  Margot’s heart is pounding so hard that she thinks the Little Drummer Boy has gotten into her head!

And The Ornament slips from her grasp. . .

(To be continued.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Runup to Christmas

Christmas stories are heart-warming, they are touching, and even if tear-inducing, they tend to exude happiness. Christmas is a season of joy, the celebration of God's gift to His children.

But not all Christmas stories are happy, and so it has been even from the day of Christ's birth.  Who has not reflected on the fate of the innkeeper who, through no fault of his own, had to turn the couple away?  We hear the angel chorus whose anthem rings down through the ages, "Gloria in excelcis Deo," the chorus heard by the shepherds on the hills surrounding Bethlehem, What joy!

And yet come from somewhere afar, rich men seeking the newborn king and bearing expensive gifts.  Seeking, of course, in a logical and prudent manner, they are the ones who break the news to Herod that a king has been born in Israel.  And though they complete their mission, find the king, and worship him, they have set in motion a series of events which cost the lives of countless babes, a most unhappy twist to the course of events introducing our Redeemer.  And though God spared Jesus from Herod's slaughter of the innocents, Christ ultimately died, too, a sacrifice as a one-time, all-time means of salvation for mankind.

Through  Christ's death and resurrection we may stand before God, for Jesus bore our iniquity and sits today in intercession for us at God's right hand.

Now that is a happy Christmas story!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Eat Mor Kalekin

According to our Saturday newspaper, a man in Vermont received a letter from Chik-fil-A demanding that he “cease and desist” from using the slogan “Eat more kale.”  Motivated to protect his rights, the man patented the phrase and defied the company.  Enter the lawyers. The ruling has come down, and mirabile dictu, the man prevailed.  He may make all the T-shirts and bumper stickers with the slogan he wishes.  Oh, well.  As the C-f-A spokeslady said, “Cows eat kale, too.”  Which seems to me to be a non sequitur, but what do I know?

Why strange?  Because it is virtually unheard of for an individual to go up against a big corporation and win his case.  I, many decades after the fact, hold a resentment toward a certain purveyor of fast food,, think happy meal, and Ronald.  A block north of my father’s residence in a small town not far from here, there was a restaurant called “Mac’s.”  Yes, they specialized in hamburgers and fries and such.  Comes the Oak Brook megachain to town, building one of its eyesores about three blocks to the west of Mac’s, and jumping with all its feet and force on Mac’s, hauling them into court, claiming that Mac’s was operating in violation of the corporation’s ownership of the world, so to speak.  The ugly monstrosity won, and Mac’s has been out of business ever since.

Which is not where I was headed when I started the kale story, but my mind is easily distracted in my old age.

Chik-fil-A does not open on Sunday, a choice they made and of which I approve.  They say, in effect, it allows a day in which their employees may worship or spend time with family.  Christian values, don’t you see?  But on the other hand, suing someone who will not bend to their will is perfectly fine.  It’s the American way, don’t you know?  It probably is just me, but the juxtaposition of these positions seems incongruous.  Yes, that’s it.  It is just me.

Today's verse:   And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! for you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.  --Luke 11:46 (RSV)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Good fences

good neighbors make; and bad fences need to go.

Six-foot wooden fence, 300 feet long behind our property and two lots to the south, three more to the north.  Fence was installed by the owner of the property on the other side of the fence.  His claim was that it was situated two feet inside his property line.  Over time, my trees grew to enclose parts of the fence, which is neither here nor there.

About a month ago, I noted a survey team working along the neighbor’s very long property line.  A few days later my next-door neighbor asked me if I had noted the placement of the stakes and flags indicating the boundary between our property and the property on the other side of the fence.  I had not, so I went to take a look.  The entire fence is inside our property, not on that of the erector of said fence.  My neighbor and I agreed that since it is our fence, and old, and ugly, and disintegrating it should go.

BBBH was drinking her first cuppa yesterday morning. She glanced out the window looking to the west.  "The fence is gone!"  I went to check it out.  It is gone, posts and all.  There were a few pickets sticking in my trees here and there, which I broke off.  Opened up quite a vista.  Well, if the full view of the IU Health Hospital maintenance facility, and a pretty good view of Pioneer’s research facility is a vista.

The fence in background, now gone.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

My Indiana Home

Flag of Indiana

One hundred ninety-eight years ago today Indiana became the nineteenth State of the Union.
Indiana by area is the smallest continental state west of the Appalachians.

Indiana is noted for corn, soybeans, basketball, autos, and motorsports.
And other things.

I am not a native Hoosier, but I am a Hoosier by choice.  I have now resided in Indiana continuously for fifty-five years.  It is home.

You can't choose where you were born, but you can choose where you live!
Happy birthday, Indiana!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sneak, Snack, Snuck

Yes, the dictionaries of today
and the style manuals say
that the past tense of
"sneak" is "snuck."

And who cares?  No one but the pedantic old fossils among us (self included) who attempted to teach the youngsters of the previous generation to eschew this vulgarism.

Sneak, we averred, is a regular verb, and therefore conjugated

  • We sneak under the tent.
  • We sneaked in to see the elephants.
  • We had sneaked in last year, but this time we got caught.

Now, we are compelled to listen to the news reader on CBS say

  • The raiders snuck in under cover of darkness.
and so on.  

Snack?  Yes, please; I don't mind if I do.

I insist to this day that "dove" is a bird of the Columbidae tribe, and has nothing to do with swimming.

And in the interest of total honesty, no matter the grating on my ear, both "snuck" and "dove" are acceptable forms, creating new irregular verbs from regular ones, especially in North America.  "Dove" in fact is more likely to be used than is "dived." Less likely to be encountered in other English speaking areas of the world.  Perhaps I am not so hide-bound, after all.  But I still contend that if in doubt, go with the traditional.  And in my case, there is no doubt: I stick by the older forms.