Saturday, August 1, 2015

Dejazmach Kassa Wolde Mariam

Fall 1954, the start of my junior year in college.  A new dormitory opened on campus and my room assignment was in this facility.  That same autumn Ethiopian student Kassa Mariam transferred to SPC.  He resided on the same floor in the dorm, though while I was on the east wing, he was on the north wing.  A large commons area at the junction of these halls gave ample opportunity for social interactions.

Mariam's course of study took him in a different direction when we headed for classes. I was fascinated by the force of Casey's personality and by the fact that he hailed from such a remote part of the world, remote to me being anywhere outside the Western United States.

The one year concluded my contact with Mariam, for though he plowed ahead and graduated with our class of '56, I laid out a year and he had moved on to his career before I finished.  Briefly, Kassa Mariam, hereditary royalty in his own right, returned to his homeland and in 1959 he married  Seble Desta, granddaughter of Emperor Haile Selassie. with whom he had five children.  He served as private secretary to the Emperor.  Kassa was named founding president of Haile Selassie University in 1962. and following his tenure as president of the university, he was named Agriculture Secretary, the position which he occupied when Selassie was overthrown by the Derg.  

Kassa Mariam was imprisoned in 1974 and in 1979 he was executed.  His widow, also imprisoned, was released in 1988.

For more detail click here.
Open letter from Kassa's children regarding proposed pardon of Derg leaders.  Click here.

Kassa, as a Seattle Pacific student

Kassa W. Mariam c.1934 - 1979 RIP

Seattle Pacific Response
Wikipedia, Seble Desta
The letter linked above.

"Saturday, July 14, 1979, was the feast day of the Holy Trinity. Reports say that His Excellency Lidj Kassa Wolde-Mariam (“Lidj” is the Ethiopian equivalent of a British “lord”) was led from his cell and went to his knees before fellow prisoner and priest, Patriarch Abune Tewophilos, who gave him absolution. Kassa rose and followed his executioners to the appointed spot where Amaha believes his father was strangled to death. Some reports say that his confessor died with him in the same mannr."  Seattle Pacific Response, linked above as more detail.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Five Boons of Life III


Word of the day: calumny

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Five Boons of Life II


The fairy appeared, and said:
"Four of the gifts remain.  Choose once more;
and oh, remember--time is flying, and only one of
them is precious."
The man considered long, then chose Love; and
did not mark the tears that rose in the fairy's eyes.
After many, many years the man sat by a coffin,
in an empty home.  And he communed with him-
self, saying:  "One by one they have gone away and
left me; and now she lies here, the dearest and the
last.  Desolation after desolation has swept over
me; for each hour of happiness the treacherous
trader, Love, has sold me I have paid a thousand
hours of grief.  Out of my heart of hearts I curse.

Word of the day: desolation

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Five Boons of Life I

Presenting Mark Twain's Five Boons of Life.  The story will be posted one chapter per day, all five chapters.


In the morning of life came the good fairy with her
basket, and said:
"Here are gifts.  Take one, leave the others.
And be wary, choose wisely; oh, choose wisely! for
only one of them is valuable."
The gifts were five: Fame, Love, Riches, Pleasure,
Death.  The youth said eagerly:
"There is no need to consider," and he chose
He went out into the world and sought out the
pleasures that youth delights in.  But each in its
turn was short-lived and disappointing, vain and
empty; and each, departing, mocked him.  In the
end he said: "These years have I wasted.  If I
could but choose again, I would choose wisely."

Word of the day: boon

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


It was six years ago today that my life-long best friend Wes concluded his mortality and put on immortality.
Wes is still remembered and missed in this Earth.

Wes and I were about the age of Bryan, on left above, when we first bonded as best buds.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Watermelon Man

Early in May BBBH came wagging a watermelon home.  At that time, I told you about her love for this delicious cucurbit.  In all fairness, I should mention that she is not the only one in this household who likes this treat.

Let us say it is the summer of 1944.  I am ten years old, Sister is seven.  The entire family, Mom, Dad, and the two kids are in the car.  We are going to the Safeway on a hot summer day.  Weird, you are thinking.  No, it is not.  Mother doesn't drive and the grocery shopping is a family excursion.

I spare you the detail and place us all back in the old Ford for the trip home with the groceries.  (It should be understood that the purchases at the grocery store tended to be staples: flour, sugar, baking soda, raisins perhaps, in general, stuff Dad could not grow or kill.)  Anyway, at the corner of Spruce and Colorado Avenue we will turn north.  And on that very corner is the Watermelon Man!  A pickup truck load of the beautiful things up from The Valley.  "Oh, Daddy! Can we have a watermelon? Can we, hunh?" I'm not sure which of us said it first, Sister or Me, but the other immediately chimed in with "Yeah, Daddy, can we, please?"

Then the devastating response.  "Four and a half cents a pound.  Way too much.  We'll have to wait until is down to two cents."

So we waited.  And watched the prices as the days passed.  Now the salivary glands flood our mouths as we pass the watermelon stands.  And then "Melons 21/¢."

"Please, Daddy. Please, please!"

And he caves.  "Well, it's still a little high, but I think I have fifty cents, so if we can find one under twenty pounds, we'll get it!"

Watermelon Man plugs the chosen melon, it is every bit as good as we had hoped, and a happy family heads home with the treasure!

Painting by A. F. King

Word of the day:  plug, in the given context.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

It is Sunday. . .

We know someone who tends the flower of life with the diligence that the gardener bestows on his prized plants. The life unfolds to reveal the beauty of living.

We all have that acquaintance who picks the flower of life to pieces.

Whether there be productivity and loveliness, or whether there be desiccation and devastation is a matter of the choices one makes as he lives his life.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.  --Proverbs 1:7