Monday, July 30, 2012

Prepping for the Sunday Drive

Desiccated and sere a blob of bird poop right here
in the center of the windshield.
The bucket, rag and soap; now it’s clean, for good we hope.
Wring the rag, swirl the pail, toss the water in the grass.
Awk! What iridescent flash o’er my head did I see pass?
Grackle Bomber in a dive on the scene does now arrive.
*           *             *
**
*SPLAT*
**
*
*
Dead-center hit.
The windshield again besmeared with it.
The End

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Consider the lilies of the field...

  ...how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. --Jesus of Nazareth

God has assured us that our every need will be supplied, food, raiment, and whatsoever we need.  God never promised us that every desire would be satisfied.  He said our need would be supplied.

This week I heard a televangelist say we are to tell God exactly what we want.  When we receive it we have no doubt that it was a provision from God.  This is the sort of testing which is both self-serving and God-limiting.  He knows our every need.   It is my belief that when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he gave them a model of a sincere prayer which we should emulate.

"Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us .  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever."

Thus to approach God in prayer, we recognize and honor His place and His holiness.  We plead for the coming of His kingdom; we submit our will to His will.  We ask only for provision for the day.  We ask for forgiveness of our sin against our fellow-man; and we commit to forgive those who have wronged us.  We ask for shielding from temptation and deliverance from evil; then we reiterate our recognition of God for who He is, the Supreme Being, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and worthy of all honor and glory.

I have lived in Indiana more than a half-century.  I am not totally unobservant.  Thus it is that I developed an algorithm for predicting the emergence of the "resurrection lilies," or "naked ladies."  These plants, about which I have written earlier, sprout long, lush, green leaves in the spring.  These leaves mature quickly and soon die down, leaving virtually no evidence of  their existence.  The bulb then lies dormant for many weeks until *ta da* overnight the naked flower stem erupts from the earth and in another day or so the bloom begins.

I predicted bloom by July 27 this year.  I missed by three days.  The picture was taken on the twenty-sixth.  Do you suppose the excessive heat of this summer had anything to do with my "miss"?

The colors are quite faithful to the reality, but the picture itself has been digitally warped to make the border for this post. Unaltered pictures may be viewed by following the link above.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Wes and Western Union

Wesley, my best friend whom I had known since we were in knee-pants (and you know how I feel about that) died three years ago today.  Scarce a day passes but I think of him.

I have written on STSTT a bit about my experiences as a Western Union messenger.  Perhaps a year after I started that job, Wes was also hired there.  How cool is that, to have your best friend working with you, competing with you for "top board"?

For my fifty-sixth birthday, Wes put together a memento of our times at the old office. He located and sent to me a messenger's working kit which I share with you here.




Wes, until the Marriage Supper of the Lamb!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Riddle Me This

Mothers today give their kids laptops when they are two.
Mothers of yesteryear entertained their kids with mind games such as these.
At any rate, my mother did.  Also, she played checkers with us, and Chinese checkers.  She read to us, and generally filled our heads with good things.  She also filled our tummies with good things which she made, baked, preserved and served in her own kitchen.  Wood burning stove, too, until I was nine years old.  I related earlier how terrified she was to use the pressure canner, and yet that did not deter her from "putting up" hundreds of quarts of good things to eat every summer.  Air conditioned kitchen?  Phfft.  Never heard of it, and couldn't have had it if we had.

Remember these, or enjoy them in any event.

As I was going to St. Ives I met a man with seven wives. 
Each wife had seven sacks, each sack had seven cats.
Each cat had seven kits.
Kits, cats, sacks and wives, how many were going to St. Ives?1

Two legs sat upon three legs,
With one leg in his lap;
In comes four legs
And runs away with one leg;

Up jumps two legs,
Catches up three legs,
Throws it after four legs,
And makes him drop one leg.                                                     Image: mothergooseclub.com
What are we?2

Railroad crossing, look out for the cars!
Can you spell that without any "r's".3

I have watched some of those three and four year old kids "working" on their computers.  They become quite adept at punching the right buttons to get a desired result.  I suspect this is excellent training  for the world in which they will live circa 2034.  Skinner would be proud..


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Detasseling

I was working in the yard along the edge of the street, trying to make the place look like someone lives here in spite of the devastation to the premises wreaked by the lousy heat and drought.  I looked up to see a young lad, early teens, walking up the street  with his bandana around his neck, his lunchbox dangling from his left hand.

"Hi," I greeted him.  "Detasseling over for the day?"  "Yes," he said, "thank goodness."

A brief encounter, but as he ambled slowly on up the street, a flood of memories overwhelmed me.  Our county grows lots of corn, lots of corn.  For many years several major seed companies have produced thousands of acres of hybrid seed corn here every year.  This has, for this community, provided short-term summer employment for lots of people, including children as young as fourteen.
It is hard, miserable, grueling work.  I am not speaking from hearsay evidence.  My own children had their turns in the corn fields.  But that would be hearsay if their accounts were placed in evidence.  Many of my junior high students as well as high school students were engaged in the enterprise.

And so this happened about 1974.  The high school principal, the middle school principal, and I decided to contract a small plot so that we could gain personal experience, so that we might better understand the situation the children were dealing with, and coincidentally so that we might pick up a little extra cash for ourselves.  This would be a snap.  Only eight acres.


Dawn came, we met at the field, long sleeve shirts, long pants.  Straw hat, bandana.  Galoshes, because it had rained most of the night.  The corn was wet, soaking us thoroughly.  The leaves are sharp and walking between the narrow rows was quite unpleasant.  The mud sucked at our feet on each step.  The corn was too tall, making for a stretch to pull the tassels.  By noon, the temperature was in the nineties.  We knocked off at one and went home, only to meet in the field again at sundown to utilize daylight until it was gone.  We should have been half-finished by the time we went home for the night.  We weren't.

Daybreak.  Back at it.  By noon, the inspector was breathing down our necks.  The field is "too hot."  You've got to finish this, like yesterday!  We took our afternoon break and recruited three of our kids and one of their friends, teens, to help us.  At standard rates times four, there goes a good chunk of our future walking-around money.  But that afternoon, the company moved in with a whip detasseler, which was a pretty new and untried technology.  This went ahead of us and whacked tassels to kingdom come, but it missed many of them and left us to clean up after the machine.  And we had to pay the cost of the machine and its operator.

Another day finished the job.  The galoshes are still somewhere in that field, what little dribby-drab of money we had left after the cost of the machinery and the kids was soon gone.  But we had the detasseling experience!


I have had many other experiences with the task, both directly and tangentially, but you've probably enjoyed about all of this you can stand.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Green at Washington

Southwest corner
Northwest corner
Northeast corner
Southeast corner





Guess who I thought of when I saw this bumper sticker yesterday.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sally Ride

 

Sally Ride, May 26, 1951 - July 23, 2012 RIP












Sunday, July 22, 2012

Psalm 56

10 In God will I praise his word: in the Lord will I praise his word.

11 In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rock Shows and Rain

 Wednesday about noon we drove cross-town Carmel from Meridian to Allisonville Road.  Then we pointed the car north toward home, but with one other destination in between.  We were going to El Camino Real in Noblesville for some authentic south-of-the-border cuisine.  This is where we go when we have a hankering for some good food at a fair price.

Anyway, commercial break over, we were just past 146th Street when a strange and almost forgotten aroma began to push through the vents which were supplying the cooling that made it possible to be in a car at all.  It was the smell of rain! My word! the excitement that welled up within us.  It was not raining where we were, but we could see the clouds to the west, and the rainfall was close enough to provide us this marvelous olfactory sensation.

We arrived at the restaurant, had a great meal then headed homeward.  As we passed the traffic light at Forest Park, it started to rain!  Though we ran out of the rain before we got to Cicero, the outside temperature now registered eleven degrees lower than it had before.  But soon enough, it was back up again.  But the good part of the story which is what I really wanted to tell is that in the evening the sky started flashing, the thunder started crashing, the wind came suddenly and bore with it tons of water. And it rained; and it rained.  We sat on the porch and enjoyed this until it finally passed about fifty minutes later.  I was so excited I had to call my sister in Colorado to tell her we had rain!
The dowside is all the branch and limb picking up I have before me now.

Yesterday Jim posted on Down the Road a notice that he was going to a rock concert.  He went on to revel in the nostalgia of the concerts in his past.  Then he challenged us to tell about the concerts we had attended, and give him a link back to his article.  Second part: done.  Here is the first part.

I believe I have attended a total of four concerts in my life, and it may be a stretch to place any of them in the category of "rock."  Dallas 1977, I was privileged to attend a Pearl Bailey concert.  Probably five years later I got to hear Lena Horne in St. Louis.  Wow!  In 1984 I saw Neil Diamond at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis.  The next and most recent concert I attended I have referred to as a "rock concert."  I don't know whether Manhattan Transfer is considered a rock group or not, but it was noisy as all Armageddon.  The concert took place in an old auditorium on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, the walls were literally shaking, and I have yet to live down the fact that I fell asleep before it was over among the people I was with.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Field's Bad Boy

Ironically the one student at School in a Soybean Field who caused me, the teacher, the most grief during our year-long contest with each other had the same name as I.  I was determined that he would be a student well-behaved, reliable and co-operative.  He was determinedly dead-set against my ambition in that regard.

David was obstreperous in class, loud and obnoxious. He sometimes hurt people.  David's widowed mother was at the end of her very frayed rope, and hanging on by a hang-nail.  Which is to say, she was no help to me in my efforts to reform the rascal, and much as I wanted it to be otherwise, I was of little assistance to her in improving the socialization skills of her get.

Please don't conclude that I hated the child.  I truly hoped to civilize him, and I worked assiduously to that end for a long, long, nay, seemingly interminable nine months.  It was a challenge.

Excuse me while I take a breath.

My attitude toward him was no worse than that of his other teachers, the principal, and his classmates.  But it wasn't any better, either.  I even toyed with the idea of changing my name from David to Leroy, or Liam, or Huckleberry.  I left the school district at the end of the year and moved to a completely different region of the state.  I had heard nothing of David from that day...

Fast forward thirty-four years.  I had purchased a car from a dealership in a town a mere sixteen miles from School in a Soybean Field.  The car had a couple of issues, and I returned to the site of purchase to ask for assistance.  The dealer called his service manager in and introduced us.  Sure, he said, bring her into Bay Three.  Which I did.  The service manager set a mechanic to work on the vehicle, then said to me, "Do you recognize me?'  I replied truthfully, "I didn't recognize you by sight, but I remember your name.  You were a sixth grade student at Soybean Field over thirty years ago."

Long conversation, reminiscing about "the day."  I asked and he filled me in on his own journey through life's mazes.  Then he said, "Do you remember David?"  "Seriously, how could I ever forget?  What ever happened to David?"  Turtle-like, I pulled my head down on my shoulders to protect myself from the terrible account I was about to hear.

"Well," Keith said, "you won't believe this, but David got saved while he was in high school.  He went to college and seminary.  He is pastor of a church in Virginia.  He is married and has two daughters.  One of them teaches sixth grade, and the other one is a senior at Virginia Tech."

Floored?  Well, I should say.  But I shouldn't have been, for the grace of God is unlimited, and His works are beyond the ken of men.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Jefferson at West

 Southwest corner
You will likely find us here, Tuesdays 6:30 to 7:55
and Sundays about noon.
 Northwest corner
If you are of the Presbyterian persuasion, you will
worship here.  And you will beat the rest of us to
the southwest corner.
 Northeast corner
The brick building behind the crabapple trees houses
the general offices of the company that owns and operates
the restaurant kittywampus, as well as many others.

 Southeast corner

See the yellow tape around the pumps?  See the pickup trucks by the doors?
Note that the signage is blank, no prices, no gas.
Bob and LuAnne Conaway have served us faithfully on this corner for more
than thirty years.  Now they will enjoy retirement, which is richly deserved,
but their cheerful, efficient and reliable service will be sorely missed.

I can't go on with this wordless Wednesday thing; I can neither keep my mouth shut,
nor can I keep my fingers off the keyboard.  Live with it.

Happy birthday to Joe Torre, born July 18, 1940.   Torre quote: 
"When we lost, I couldn't sleep at night. When we win, I can't sleep at night. But when you win, you wake up feeling better."   (...and you thought Casey Stengel had all the bases covered.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hot Enough for Ya?

The ever-smiling, hand-waving perky little Weather Person told me that as of today, we have had 30 days where the official temperature topped 900. The previous highest number of such days in a year? 15. Also, eight of those days have topped 1000. Then, Miss Perky went on to give us the “eight-day outlook.”

Grim. That’s what it is: grim. All, all of those eight days will add yet another day to the list of “above ninety” days, and not fewer than two of them will exceed 1000.

I know that some of you who live in certain parts of the country find this to be no big deal. A summer’s day for you that doesn’t push the thermometer to triple-digits is no summer day at all. But, please, we are not used to this!

Now, other than what may at a glance seem to be carping, there is a nubbin of scientific knowledge in all this that is of interest to me, and no, I am not going AGW. The interesting thing to me is the progess over the past few years in the science of meteorology. As recently as 1990, we were taking our weather forecasts with a fairly large grain of skepticism. We had even developed a sort of game in which we wanted to hear the weather forecast not so much to aid us in planning our day, or deciding whether or not to take the galoshes, but more so that we could check tomorrow against the forecast so we could deride the meteorologist if he was wildly wrong.

But that lucky fellow, or lady, who had that job had a swell mantra by which to live. “Being wrong never means I have to say I’m sorry.” He, or she, just blithely went along with another forecast, which may or may not be as wrong as the previous one.

And here it is. Today’s weather forecasting has become an amazingly accurate science. Ho-hum. The other way was so much more fun. Not nearly so helpful, but more fun.

I really wanted to write a tribute to Willis Carrier, whose scientific acumen, brilliant solutions to "indoor climate control," and the daring to push through the Great Depression to bring to hoi polloi in-home air conditiong, but I really hadn't the time to do adequate research and condense viable information into such  a tribute.  Nevertheless,  thanks, Mr. Carrier.

Monday, July 16, 2012

George Manlove

My friend, George, was raised in a parsonage.  His father was a pastor.  My father was a pastor, a parsonage was my home.  At various times in George's life, he was an elementary school principal and a junior high school math teacher.  I was a junior high math teacher; I was an elementary school principal.  One might accurately say that George and I had things in common. One thing we did not have in common:  George was a pastor in his own right in his younger days.

But our relationship was not forged in the crucible of hardscrabble living on the income of the parents; nor was it an outgrowth of professional interactions in the world of public education.  Though we lived in the same town, and I knew who he was, our friendship did not really begin until the death of my first wife.  I could see as we got acquainted the kind and understanding sort of man he was.  Soon I had chosen to begin attendance at the church of which George was a faithful member and leader, and thus I would see George on Sundays.

Time passed by all too swiftly, as I am sure many of a certain age have noted.   We both retired, and for a while life went on, so to speak.  But soon enough, too soon, George's loving spouse, Harriet, began to have serious health issues.  George expended all his strength and most of his energy caring for her for a long time.  She eventually improved in overall health, and with a hip replacement, from which she quickly recovered, she was able to resume her life. 

George was born ten years before I was, so it is hardly surprising that he began to exhibit serious physical weaknesses of his own.  Heart issues, fainting and falling, and a whole litany of things I'll not relate here.  I started stopping by the house, where the three of us would visit for half-hour or so.  We had wonderful conversation, because we saw things in the same light on so many issues, but we were not focused on the past   George's quiet demeanor, his twinkling eye and winning smile were always heart-warming.  A while back, the Manloves lost a daughter-in-law, then, less than a year ago, a son died.  We discussed at length a fear that all parents have, the very thing they were living, that is that parents should not outlive their children.  It just doesn't seem to be natural.  George and Harriet, through the hurt of the loss, were able to say, It is in the Lord's hands.

As it got increasingly more difficult for George to complete an expression of his thought, Harriet would sit patiently and coach him a bit, whereupon he could complete what he wanted to say.  As I was leaving the other day, Harriet said, "It is getting harder for him to remember things."

My phone rang.  It was George's daughter, Patty, who called to tell me that her father had passed away.  She said he had a massive heart attack and he was gone quickly.

Though I will miss him greatly, I know that George is with the Lord.

George A. Manlove  1923 - 2012  RIP





Sunday, July 15, 2012

Admonition

Are we careful in our verbal interactions with each other?  Should we take more thought before we speak?  Have you heard someone make an assertion, probably not complimentary, then hastily follow it up with "Just kidding"?  Do you suspect that the speaker said what he really meant, but tried to cover with the disclaimer?

What does scripture teach us about this?  Proverbs 26:18,19:

As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death,
So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport? (KJV)
or,
Just as damaging as a madman shooting a deadly weapon is someone who lies to a friend and then says, “I was only joking.” (New Living Translation)
and in the words of Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew 5:27:
But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

  • Your tongue.  Watch it.
  • Be fair; be kind.  Be truthful.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Weather Report

Now is the winter of our discontent

made miserable summer by the sun unhampered by clouded sky

nor air cooled by northern breeze.

That we might in the deep bosom of the ocean bury

our remembrance of such torrid days.


Torrid days, horrid days about which I vowed

never to complain, for winter’s blast is my bane

I hate cold more than I despise the heat.

I lied; I carp, I snivel and complain. I am

no better than all my like-afflicted kin. *




(Look! There is yet some green in my lawn!)
*Lines from Bob Warr and Picket Fences.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Versailles



Image Versailles State Park:  IN DNR website.

Yes, this post was planned to be a report on our wonderful camping experience at Versailles State Park.  This is what happens sometimes when one plans ahead.  We did not make it.  I am sitting in my living room having just returned from the doctor's office.  And the drugstore.

Monday as we were prepping to go, I just felt crappy.  Not really sick-sick, but a two-hour drive just didn't appeal to me.  Good thing, too, because my headache got increasingly more intense throughout the day, and by the time I went to bed after the local news, I had a pretty hot little fever, and by 1:30 I was more or less delirious.  I was lying in bed singing in such a loud voice that BBBH came upstairs to find out what was "wrong with me."  I just wanted to sing.

 
More than enough of that.  Please forgive me for too much about my hurts; and please forgive me for boring you.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Jumping in the Bean Field.

The days at School in a Soybean Field were quite long, due in large measure to the bus scheduling.     My work day typically ran from seven to four-thirty, including drive time to and from school.  In the springtime, that is during track season, I voluntarily extended that to five o'clock three days a week.

Leon, strapping, handsome eighth grade lad, aspired to be a high jumper.  Although I totally lacked qualification, except for the ability to read and the patience to listen to instruction, I volunteered to "stay over" with Leon as he worked out at the pit.  I am not athletic, nor had I ever participated in an athletic endeavor more strenuous than pitching horseshoes. 

Leon would meet me at the high jump venue immediately after school and we would work until his mother picked him up about 4:45.  Jack, the track coach, had given me a basic routine in which to instruct the lad, and I had supplemented that with library research.  After a couple of evenings working together, Leon was warming up with the bar set at four feet, two inches.  He said to me,  "Go ahead and jump that thing, Teach.  Tall as you are, you could step over it."  I accepted the challenge, and indeed it was not terribly taxing.  But as the bar moved up in two-inch increments, I found that my awkward "scissors" technique demanded extreme exertion and generated failure at about four foot ten.  Back to the library for more study.

Long springtime of long time ago told short.  I was finally able to stay with Leon through five foot two by using a roll technique.  Leon could best that by one peg, and I was very pleased with myself.

But I was getting a bit too old.  After all, I would be thirty next year!.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ugliest Corner

Jefferson at Ash

Southwest corner
Northwest corner
Northeast corner
Southeast corner

Why, you might ask, would I designate this an ugly corner?
This corner could be found in any of a thousand towns across the Midwest.
It has no character; but that's commerce.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Incredible

There you go.

I turned six years of age in the summer of 1940.  I was still in short pants.  Even at that tender age I hated short pants.  Long pants in that day represented a rite of passage, and I could hardly wait for the school year to start, for then I would get to wear long pants!  Little did I know then that the tortures awaiting me at school would far outweigh the joys of wearing long pants.  But I have told that part of the story before.  This is about men and their "shorts."

Before I launch into the rant, look at the picture.  Why? I ask.  Nevermind the answer, for I know that there is no good answer.  Look at that!  And my spouse encourages me to go around looking like that?  Incredible.  She said to me just the other day, "You have a ton of Wranglers in your closet that are worn and holey.  Why don't you cut them off and make some shorts?  It is too hot for long pants."  See, one cannot even depend on his nearest and dearest for support sometimes.  But the answer is an emphatic "Not in this lifetime."  She even tells me, argumentively, "You have nice legs."  Nice, yes; they have supported me, lo, these many years.  Something to look at?  I don't think so.  I'm a guy.
A couple of days later, three of my stepsons were standing around here in the house talking about their shorts!  Incredible.  "I hate the way these things (tugging at the bottom of the things) catch on my knees when I try to get up from a chair."  "Yeah."  "Yeah, I hate that, too." 

Comfortable attire.

Ugly attire, too.  Whatever happened to us anyway?  Don't answer that, either.

If you ever see me in swim trunks, I will be on the beach or in the pool.  You will never see me in shorts.

So some clever person will say, "Aren't you hot?"  I say, "It's 102 degrees.  Aren't you?"
Short pants on men: reversion to childhood, sez I.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Caption Game


A recent Friday evening thunderstorm knocked over a tree, which knocked over a pole, which left a power line on the ground.  Saturday a utility truck and a sawhorse blocked the road.  Monday morning, this was the scene.  I want your captions for this picture; fair game, because you now know as much about it as I do.  Oh, except for this.  At nine a. m., at five p.m., the road still blocked.  I saw no workmen at any time I passed by, neither on Saturday nor on Monday.

I have a caption. I will reveal it after you have given me your best shot!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

David is King

Based on 2 Samuel 5

David was in Hebron when all the tribes of Israel approached him. Look! We are your kinfolk. When Saul was king you were really running the country. Even God told you that you were the shepherd of his people, Israel.

So all the leaders of Israel sat down with David and they made a treaty, with God as their witness. They anointed David King over Israel.

David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned for forty years.

David and his armies marched on Jerusalem, but the Jebusites who dwelt there said, Oh, please. Even the blind and the lame could keep you out of Jerusalem. Go home!

Though the Jebusites were totally convinced that David could not conquer them, he went right ahead and took the fortress of Zion and made the city his home, calling it “City of David.”

He prospered there and built up the city. God was with him.

 Hiram, King of Tyre, sent carpenters, masons and craftsmen along with timbers of cedar to build a house for David. David felt that this was a sure sign that God had confirmed him as Israel’s king, and that the kingdom was recognized by the world at large.

 David took wives and concubines in Jerusalem and had a bunch of kids.
And when the Philistines heard that David was king they came down against him. But God was with David and assured him of victory against them, which he achieved. Twice. He ran them plumb out of the country.
  • Takeaway:  David was beloved of God.  Since this is so, clearly you, too, are beloved of God.  David did not live a perfect life; in fact, he was the epitome of the flawed human nature which inhabits us all.  God loves us anyway.
  • If that is true, then is it okay for us to live our lives randomly and recklessly, cherishing our sins and polishing our egos?  Not at all.  To receive the love of God, we reciprocate that love, and in so doing we will want to live as God wants us to live.   God will empower us to live the life He has planned for us, and we will thereby reap reward beyond our wildest imaginings.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Where'd It Go?

Banking in the sixties, my money (such as it was) was deposited at Farmers National Bank, locally operated by local people and capitalized largely by local investors.  In fact, that bank could not open a branch across the road, for that was in the next county and it was unlawful to operate a bank across a county line.

Money talks, though, and so do bankers and what they had to say was, "We want more money!"  Their lobbying efforts successfully gained the privilege of free-wheeling banking.  Soon my little local bank had branches in four towns, none of which were in the home county.  Thus it ripened like a plum, and it was soon picked off by a much larger bank in State Capital, Indiana.

It grew.  And the Cincinnati bankers' eyes widened with lust, they salivated with greed, and SC Bank was plucked by a bank in a neighboring state.  Now, following only God and the Feds know how many transactions later my bank has wound up doing business under a set of three initials.  No one knows what the letters represent, and I don't know where it is headquartered; and my money has all been transformed into digital information and disappeared into the ether.

And I am supposed to have faith and confidence in this.

I opened my first pass-book savings account more than sixty years ago.  The account drew a higher rate of interest than do my savings accounts in the bank today, which essentially grant the bank the use of my money for free.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Track Season at Soybean Field

Spring sports season at School in a Soybean Field switches the focus from random play and basketball to track and field.  The seventh grade and social studies teacher, Jack, is also the all-sports coach for the seventh and eighth grade boys.  The school is tiny, but we have some fine specimens of farm-grown boys.  Some of them think they can run, and even fewer of them are right.

Today's story is about track, but it is more about Rosetta.  Rosetta is an eighth grader.  She is an average eighth grader in almost all respects.  Average height, average weight, ordinary well-scrubbed average looks, average scholastic record; this girl is average.  This may seem a non sequitur, inserted here as it is, but trust me, it is germane.  In the day girls who attended SiSF wore dresses, or skirts and blouses or sweaters.  They did not wear jeans, slacks, or shorts.

On the north side of our playground, the coach, the math teacher and I laid out a track.  It was a one-sixth mile oval.  This was the largest oval we could lay out in the allotted space, so the mile run was six laps and the quarter-mile finish line was well beyond the starting point.  You did pick up on the fact that the kids ran 100 yards, not meters, 440 yards, not 400 meters and so forth, because this was truly back in the day.

Many times at recess impromptu races took place on the track, sometimes a mass of kids, sometimes a challenge race.  The thing is, Rosetta could run.  Rosetta was not an average runner.  Rosetta could outrun everyone in the school, even the star track men, over any distance, your choice.  In the dashes, she flew out of the blocks like a ball off the head of Arnie Palmer's driver.  In the distance runs, she could pace herself perfectly and "kick" at exactly the right moment.  Defeat was not an option, and she considered any place but first place to be a defeat.  The boys were chagrined.  They were suffering the sting of humiliation dished out by a mere girl, not realizing that in a matter of a year or two things would happen to their adolescent bodies which would enable some of them to leave Rosetta in the dust.

Well, Title IX at this point was a mere dream in the minds of women who thought that they were suffering ill-treatment in the realm of school athletics; and it would be yet three decades before Patsy Mink was elected to Congress.  That Rosetta could participate in interscholastic meets was nothing more than a strong "I wish" in the minds of the coach, and Rosetta.  But she was a loyal fan, and would show up at all the meets to cheer her classmates to victory, or to console them in their thwarted attempts.

So, this year School in a Soybean Field has one qualifier to represent them at the all-school junior high championship meet in County Seat, Indiana.  This dedicated lad is Melvin, a classmate of Rosetta, and Melvin is a distance runner.  He has qualified for the mile-run. The runners get set for the start, sixteen boys on the cusp of puberty prancing, pacing, and doing jumping-jacks in warmup.
The starter directs the boys to their starting positions, gives the order and fires the pistol.  They are off!

As the lead runners cross the starting point at the end of the first lap, five of them are clustered quite close, the remaining ones beginning already to trail out behind.  Melvin is in third place.  Completion of second lap, same five runners clustered, trail behind getting longer.  Melvin is still in third place.  In the infield where Rosetta has been jumping up and down excitedly as the boys completed the third lap, we see her move to the edge of the grass and snug up against the track itself as the boys make the fourth turn on the third lap.  As they cross the starting point to begin the gun lap, Melvin is in the lead by nearly three yards! 

As Melvin flashes by, Rosetta takes off like the proverbial shot and in a trice is running shoulder-to-shoulder with Melvin, he on the track, she in the grass, her feet shod in black Converse Chuck Taylors, her legs churning, her bright yellow skirt flapping about her legs, her pony-tail flaring out behind her white blouse.

"Pace, pace, Melvin, pace," she is crying as she runs.  "I"ve got you.  Run, run!"  Then as they make the second turn, she sees that Melvin has extended his lead to perhaps eight yards.  "Coast, coast, follow my pace!"  As they make the final turn, Melvin is leading by four yards and Rosetta yells, "Kick, kick!  Race you to the finish!"  and she kicks it.  So does Melvin.  He breaks the tape, staggers into the grass and flops down, the county champion in the mile run!

Rosetta, scarcely breathing hard, runs to Melvin, grabs his left arm and pulls at him yelling, "Get up, you won!  Walk it out!  We won, we won!"

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Hope you have a blessed Independence Day as you celebrate and reflect on our history and how our freedoms are attained and maintained!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

That's No Duck

Mallard is a 165 ton steam locomotive that operated on the London and Northeastern Railway.  It holds the official speed record for steam engine.  On July 3, 1938, she made a run pulling a train of seven cars during which she attained an official speed of 125.88 miles per hour.

High-speed rail travel during the age of steam boasted schedules in America, the UK and Europe in which the vehicles would have been compelled to run at speeds in excess of 100 mph.  But Mallard's record stands, though a German train came within a whisker of the record, and various  anecdotal, but unofficial claims of higher speeds in the US have been made.  However, while the Brits were serious about record setting attempts, and carefully monitored such runs, such endeavors never took place on this side of the pond. 

I was traveling from London to Cambridge by train a good many years ago, but post-steam, and I noticed the conductor with his stop-watch checking the passing of mileposts.  I asked him what our speed was.  "Ninety," he said.

I have a soft spot in my heart, or perhaps it is in my head, for rail travel.  I was fortunate enough to have grown up in the era of steam-powered trains.  I had the privilege of making several trips by rail back then.  I have also travelled by diesel locomotive, by bus, by plane, and by automobile.  Just never could stay anchored in one spot.  Unlike Immanuel Kant.  Yet look who is the more noted.

Images:: Wikipedia


Monday, July 2, 2012

Autumn in July

These tulip trees (yellow poplar) are a half-block down the street.  Perhaps we should expect that if Spring starts in February, then Fall should come in July. 
What is that lying on the ground?  Yes, they are fallen, brown leaves.  We usually don't rake until October.  Our river birch in the front yard is at about the same stage as these trees.
It is very disconcerting to see our summer loveliness gone almost before summer is officially underway.

But, far be it from me to complain.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Benhadad

By and by, Benhadad became King of Syria and plotted in his mind to renew Syria's beef with Israel.  He gathered his armies and went up against Samaria and beseiged it to the point of severe famine in the land.  So severe was the famine that the mere head of a donkey1 sold for eighty pieces of silver2, and a pint of chick peas3 was bringing five silver pieces.
Now as it happened the king was walking along the wall when a woman cried out to him, "Help me!"
"Help you what?" asked the king.  "What is the matter with you?"
The woman replied, "Here is this woman who said to me, 'Let us eat your son today, and tomorrow we will eat mine,' so we boiled my son and ate him.  Now it's her turn, and she has hidden her son and refuses to cough him up, so to speak."

When the king heard this, he tore his clothes, and walked upon the wall wearing only sackcloth next to his skin. And he swore by God that he should become food for the people if Elisha's head remained on his shoulders at the end of the day. Now the king sent an executioner down before him to the house where Elisha sat chatting with the elders.  Before the executioner arrived, Elisha said, "Look, this son of a murderer who calls himself king is on his way to remove my head.  Bar the door!  The king cannot be far behind."

The king came, and Elisha told him that on the morrow barley and fine flour would be sold for a shekel in the gates of the city.   The king's aide laughed and snorted, "What? Provender will rain from heaven?"  "Indeed, I tell you the truth, but you shall not partake of the food, not a mouthful."
And that came to pass exactly as Elisha had foretold it; the man who scoffed was trampled to death by the crowd in its rush to obtain food.4

Based on 2 Kings 6, & 7

1Recall that the donkey was an "unclean" animal, thus forbidden for food to the Israelites, and the head must surely have been among the least desirable parts of an abominable creature.
2It is difficult to determine exactly the value of a "piece of silver;" but some scholars agree that eighty pieces of silver could be the equivalent of nine or ten months wages for a skilled workman.
3The phrase is translated "a fourth part of a cab of dove's dung" in the King James Version.  Scholars have long debated whether the material is to be taken literally as translated, or as a type of chick pea which is still referred to as "dove's dung" in parts of the Middle East.  Most, I think, tend to the latter.
4Between the first sentence of this paragraph and the last, there is a long tale of running soldiers, thieving lepers who get a conscience, and so on.  It is all germane to the story, but the limitations of space restrict the retelling to this footnote.