Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The First Woman to...

1. go into space: Soviet Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, aboard Vostok 6, went into orbit on June 16, 1993.  The mission lasted 71 hours and covered 48 orbits.

2. become a  U.S. Senator: Rebecca Latimer Felton, who served only one day in 1922.  The first woman elected to the Senate was Hattie Caraway in 1932.

3. Become a jockey in America (1907).

4. become a movie superstar: Mary Pickford.

5. become a professional baseball pitcher: This was probably Jackie Mitchell, who in 1931, while pitching for the minor league Chattanooga Lookouts, struck out Yankee stars Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition game.

6.  become a bank president: Maggie Lena  Walker (1864-1934).  In 1903 Walker, the daughter of a former slave, founded a Penny Savings’ Bank and served as its president.

7. become a U.S. Army general: On June 11, 1970, Colonel Anna Mae Hays was promoted to brigadier general.

8. be executed in the United States: On July 7, 1865, Mary Surratt was hanged.  She was found to be a part of the conspiracy to kill President Lincoln.

9. win an Olympic boxing title: Nicola Adams of Great Britain won the Gold Medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

10. pilot an aircraft: Therese Peltier of France (1908).

11. earn a p.h.d.: In 1608 Julianna Morell of Spain earned a doctorate degree.

12. become an Egyptian pharaoh: Hatshepsut was at least the first significant female leader of ancient Egypt around the year 1,500 B.C.

13. marry actor Mickey Rooney: Rooney’s first of nine wives was actress Ava Gardner.

14. receive a U.S. patent: On May 5, 1809, Mary Dixon Kies received a patent for a new way of weaving straw with silk and thread in the manufacturing of hats.

15. became a self-made millionaire: Sarah Breedlove, also known as Madam C.J. Walker (December 23, 1867-May 25, 1919).

16. graduate from a U.S. medical school: Elizabeth Blackwell in 1849.

17. run a four-minute mile: So far, no female has run a mile in under four minutes.  The best time is by the Russian Svetlana Masterkova in 1996.  She was clocked at 4:12.56.

18. own a Hollywood studio: Lucille Ball became the sole owner of Desilu after her former husband sold out his half interest to her.  Note: During the silent era, Mary Pickford was one of the founders of United Artists.

19. become poet laureate of the U.S.: Mona Van Duyn (1992).

20. be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Aretha Franklin (1987).

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Don't Blame Me, Ladies; I'm Just the Messenger

***Here is an interesting but outdated newspaper article from 1927.

“Women are in the habit of speaking slightingly of each other so much that it has become proverbial.  Seldom does one hear a woman praising another, and when one does, there is always some string attached to it, some little digging remark that quite nullifies the praise given.

“The chief reason for this almost universal feminine trait is that a woman, in considering the merits or demerits of another woman, invariably places herself in a position of competition with that woman.  A woman will say: ‘Mrs. Jones certainly runs her house well-but no wonder-she has three servants.’

“Again one hears something like this: ‘How young Evelyn keeps herself!  She must spend at least ten dollars a week at the hair dresser’s.’  (remember, this is 1927).

“Or in this way does a woman unburden her feelings: : ‘Mary is so accomplished in so many ways.  Funny she can’t get a husband!’ 

“Always there is a ‘but’ attached to the praise.  Always the woman, although granting an asset or a virtue in the other, sees to it that the woman’s other faults or aids are emphasized.

“Now a man does not praise like that.  If he believes another man deserves credit he gives it to him unstintingly and without reservation.  That does not mean that a man does not place himself in a position of rivalry with men.  He does, but in a sense different from the way a woman views such rivalry.

“If a man sees another achieving in a credible manner he may wish that he himself had been as successful.  But it does not lead him to make cutting, sarcastic remarks.

“What the man always feels like doing under such circumstances is to knuckle down to business and attempt through work and merit to outrival the other.

“A woman, you see, has no definite and absolute standards to go by.  A man lives by the standards that the world at large have built up and accepts.  To these standards he readily subscribes.

“The woman, on the other hand, makes her own standards.  And the standards which she, herself, invents are the ones by which she judges all other women. 

“For example, suppose a woman marries and has a lovely home, an adoring husband and beautiful children.  For her, motherhood at once becomes the standard of excellence.  A spinster (do we still use this word?) however, will live by a standard that may be quite opposite.

“The mother still tends to belittle all achievements made by the spinster, while the spinster will tend to disparage the achievements of motherhood and will hold acrimony (?)  to a father or mother, or devotion to a social service cause or perhaps to politics, as being the finest and highest ideals for which a woman can live.

“Then, again, sex rivalry has a great deal to do with the cattishness of some women.  From the very beginning these women want to be desired.  If not desired they will not be chosen for marriage, which carries with it the (unreadable word) of propagation of the species.

“This urge is distinctive, fundamental and necessary.  And, therefore, if a woman realizes that another woman is more desirable in some particular-personal attractiveness, excellence in housekeeping, or whatever-she at once tries to identify her own particular desirability by belittling the desirability of the other woman and by enlarging upon her own good qualities.

“It’s a sort of squaring of accounts.  Always, however, the woman must somehow justify herself and come out on top.  Of course, there are exceptions to this rule of feminine conduct the same as there are exceptions to all rules.  There are women who reason more like men, who realize that certain standards of conduct are better for women than others, and who try to subscribe to them and live by them. 

“In the end, these women are the happiest.  The woman who is always trying to disparage the other woman is always upset.  Would that more and more women could see the folly of not being fair-minded. 

“Would that women, as a class, could learn the advantages to themselves of gaining non-personal perspectives both on the good and the bad qualities of their sisters!”

***By the way, if you haven’t already guessed, this article was written by a man, and I think he is completely wrong.  I believe that women are perfect in every way, especially my wife  (I’m no dummy; she reads all my blogs!)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

When the Hubby Shops for his Honey

Up until now each year my wife Bev has given me a Christmas shopping list.  On it were the specific things she wanted me to buy for her.  The sizes, colors, and even the manufacturers were spelled out precisely.  This, of course, makes shopping relatively quick and easy, and thus more time is left for the really important things in life such as watching football and basketball games.

But this year is different.  One day Bev said to me: “I’m not making a Christmas list this year.  I want you to use your own initiative and pick things for me, because this year I want to be surprised.”  Well, I think that’s what she said; at the time I was watching a very close NFL game.

So the next Saturday, for once not armed with a list, I parked my car in the lot and entered the crowded mall.  Using my own initiative, as I had been directed, I strolled into a sporting goods store.  There I spotted an array of beautiful two-piece swimming suits. 

Although I think Bev is still one good-looking gal, it’s been a good twenty-years since she would have purchased a  bikini, but remember, I now had the freedom to use my own initiative.  

My eyes soon spotted a tiny bright red number, so I approached the nearest clerk for assistance.  “What is your wife’s bust measurement?” the young lady inquired.

“Let me think,” I replied.  “She’s somewhere between Jane Mansfield and the young Twiggy.”

Since a precise measurement was not available, the clerk had me select from among the following sizes: coconuts, grapefruit, apples, and eggs.  I know that previously Bev has given me her measurements many times, but those specific numbers are difficult to remember.  It’s not like really important statistics evade me.  For example, from my childhood I remember that in 1961 the baseball star Roger Maris played in 161 games, hit a then-record 61 homeruns, and knocked in 142 runs.  It’s too bad I wasn’t shopping for Mr. Maris.

Both the clerk and I were blushing, but we did get to the approximate correct size.  And, of course, I had proudly used my own initiative,

Knowing my wife’s modesty, I bought her a beautiful set of long underwear to put on before donning the bikini.  That is probably the only way she will ever use my gift.

Recently Bev has been taking exercise classes, so once again using my initiative, I selected a basketball, a football, and a baseball and glove.  Why be bored with dancing, swimming, and jogging when you can burn those calories by playing basketball, football, and baseball?

It’s amazing that a husband can find everything he needs for his wife in just one store.  I just had to buy her a t-shirt that had a big black arrow pointing to her left that had the words: “I’m with stupid.”  Not knowing her exact size, I bought one size below my own.  Hopefully it will be a little large rather than too small.

Bowling ball satchels were on sale, so I bought her a pretty pink one.  True, she doesn’t bowl, but maybe she can use it as a purse.  Recently she has complained that her present purse is too small.  Heck, she could carry a spare tire in the bowling ball satchel!

Self-satisfied, I proudly lugged the packages back to the car and headed home.  I don’t know if Bev will actually like the idea that I used my own initiative, but I bet a dollar to a doughnut that she will indeed be surprised, as she had requested.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Be Glad you didn't get the "Big Snow"

*If you awaken some morning to find two or three inches of snow on the ground, just be thankful that you did not have the equivalent of the "big snow" of 1950 that took place in and around my hometown.
     Mother nature had a surprise in store for Zanesville and Muskingum County in November of 1950: “Gloves and ear-muffs got an unexpected workout yesterday as Zanesvillians  plodded through a heavy snow, muffled against a bitter and unseasonal cold snap.
    “The snow storm struck Thursday night (November 23rd) with plenty of strength, and if the weather bureau is right, winter has plenty of reserves to throw in next week.”  (Times Recorder, 11-25-1950).
    The city police and the sheriff’s department were kept busy investigating several minor accidents, but one mishap in particular could have been fatal: “The most serious accident occurred on South River road about 10:15 a.m. when a car driven by Robert Weyandt, 26, a sailor from Norfolk, Va., skidded out of control, struck a guard rail and crashed into a tree.  Weyandt’s wife, Anna and their 19-months-old son, Robert, Jr., were thrown from the car, the baby almost rolling into the Muskingum river.  All were taken to Bethesda hospital by passing motorists but were later dismissed.”  (TR, 11-25-1950).
    Unfortunately (at least from my point of view), the horrible weather aided arch-rival Michigan in upsetting highly-favored Ohio State in the “Blizzard Bowl” in Columbus: “Michigan’s wily Wolverines wrapped up the Western Conference championship and a probable Rose bowl bid today, blocking two attempted punts to defeat Ohio’s favored Buckeyes, 9 to 3 on a snow-covered, storm-swept gridiron.
    “Michigan failed to make a first down in fighting its way into the king row, but turned a pair of breaks into the nine points needed to give it the title.
    “A 28-mile wind swept across the Buckeye stadium and the athletes played like they were wearing boxing gloves as Michigan took advantage of a wired set of circumstances …”  (Sunday Times Signal, 11-26-1950).
    On the 27th the Times Recorder  stated that the city and county were still in a mess: “Zanesville and the rest of southeastern Ohio last night were still digging out from under one of the worst snow storms ever to hit this area and worrying about  forecasts of more snow.
    “Traffic was almost paralyzed in Zanesville and over most of the nearby areas.  Only main highways were open and they were unsafe for travel in most instances. 
    “Schools in Zanesville and most of the counties around will not open today.  City buses were not running and will not resume service until streets are cleared.  All bus lines into and out of the city , with one exception, were not operating.  The South Zanesville bus operated yesterday and planned to resume this morning.  Taxicab service was on an emergency basis only.  Trains were running late.” 
    That same day the TR reported a casualty: “At least one death was attributed to the storm.  Sherman C. Brooks, 60, of 112 Huey street, died at 3:30 Sunday afternoon following a heart attack suffered while shoveling snow in front of his home.”
    On the 27th the Zanesville Signal stated: “Six passengers, on a Marietta-Zanesville bus which was stalled at McConnelsville Saturday night, were still ‘weathered in’ at the Kennebec hotel there today.”
    The article had this to say about mail delivery: “If mail was delivered to your house today, you are lucky.  A few letter carriers braved the snow to the more accessible parts of the residential district.  For the most part, however, deliveries were limited to the business district. 
    “Rural carriers hope farmers will have the snow cleared around their mail boxes by the time RFD service is restored.  When it is possible to resume these deliveries was a matter of question today.  A majority of the rural roads were hopelessly impassable today.”
    Finally, on the 28th the TR saw light at the end of the tunnel:  “Zanesville is hopefully expecting to begin returning to normal today.  With the worst storm in 49 years now history and the heroic struggle against the ravages of snow beginning to show results, transportation, industry and business are expected to be back in stride before today is over.”
    City officials had called for and received help in clearing the streets: “More than a score of big dump trucks attacked downtown snow piles last midnight after an appeal had been sounded by Mayor William G. Watson and Service Director Bernard Dunmead… City equipment, including a road maintainer, two small loaders and six trucks had proven unable to cope with the snowfall.”
    In response to the city’s pleas, “… calls flooded police and the radio station.  All were instructed to mobilize at the city barns at midnight to start the cleanup and many streets were expected to be clear this morning.” 
    Evidently the streets of some other Ohio towns were in better shape than Zanesville’s: “A Zanesville man was in St. Louis for the weekend.  He drove eastward  500 miles without difficulty.  He said Columbus streets were well cleared.  But he became very angry when his car became stuck in a snow bank in front of his own home.”  (TR, 11-28-1950).
    On the 29th the Zanesville News listed the snowfall totals: “An official report on the total snowfall Wednesday left little doubt that the snow which began Thursday night had smashed all existing records dating to 1895. 
    “The snowfall at Municipal Airport totaled 24.8 inches at 8 a.m. Wednesday, with 13 inches still on the ground.  The rainfall equivalent was 1.15 inches.  At Lock 10, the official accumulated snowfall was 15.2 inches.  Near Philo, on Butterbean ridge where W. R. Burckholter maintains a Weather Bureau station, the total snowfall was about 24 inches.”
    Despite the workers‘ best efforts, , the wind played havoc with rural road  clearing:  “A mechanized battle against snow went into high gear Wednesday in city, county, and state, but ran into stiff rural opposition from winds which drifted across cleared roads.
    “Last night Rt. 40, clear from Indiana to West Virginia for trucks and cars with chains, suffered badly from drifts across the new stretch of highway at Norwich east of here, and in other scattered areas.” 
    On the other hand, the city was making substantial progress: “In the city meanwhile, the fight was being won with diesel shovels, bulldozers, scoops, scrapers, and snow-shoveling men.
    “A brigade of volunteer trucks and men (was) joined downtown last night at 7 o’clock by high-powered construction equipment which swept away hundreds of trucks full of snow from streets, sidewalks and parking areas.”  (TR, 11-30-1950).
    By the 2nd of December the Times Recorder believed that the worst was over: “The warmest day since last weekend’s record blizzard Friday melted several inches of the snow which has been plaguing transportation in southeastern Ohio. 
    “With the job of clearing streets nearly done, the Red Cross and city administration joined in thanking volunteers who pitched in to speed the job.
    “Mayor William Watson said the city owed a vote of deep gratitude to the crews of workers and other volunteers who worked for three nights. “
    Several ladies also  did their part.  Fifteen local women formed a canteen to supply the workers with coffee and doughnuts.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Car Problems

For awhile it seemed like any other typical day.  Pulling into the library parking lot, I turned off the engine and began to open the car door.  Then, to my utter surprise, the car alarm began honking loudly. A few people in the lot looked suspiciously at me, wondering if I were an outlaw. 

Grabbing my fob, I quickly pushed the red panic button, only to discover that the battery was dead.  Unfortunately, several other maneuvers proved equally worthless.  Finally a gentleman came out of the library to offer assistance.  He suggested that if we disconnected the battery and waited a few minutes before reconnecting  it the horrible noise would be stopped.  We tried that technique twice, but to no avail.

After thanking the gentleman for his help, I fired up the engine and headed for the nearest service garage.  Of course, people were staring at me since the automobile was loudly screaming: “Honk!  Honk!  Honk!”  I imagined that it resembled the cries  of a wild goose having an orgasm. 

As I passed a little boy and his mother he pointed to my loud machine; protectively wrapping her arms around her son, she probably told him that I was a car thief.  Since this was such an embarrassing episode I scrunched down into the seat so that my eyes were just above the top of the steering wheel. 

Thankfully, the station attendant showed me how to shut off the offending sound when one has a dead fob.  After thanking him profusely I once again headed for the library.

Thinking that my problems were now behind me, I decided to turn on the radio for a little entertainment.  Instead of music I was greeted with a message:  “Enter Cod.”  I will freely admit that my knowledge of automobiles is negligible, but I found it difficult to believe that I was supposed to jam a fish down that little slit where a CD goes!

Eventually I figured out that the message must be “Enter Code.”  Of course, the next question was: What code?

Later that day my wife Bev called the auto dealership to find out more about this mysterious code.  They told her that there was a five-number code listed on the inside of the driver’s door.  Finding the numbers, I began to plug them in.  The second number, a “9,” posed a major problem, for the numbers on the radio only went to “6.”  I tried six plus three, three plus three plus three, and even nine ones.  Each time I was greeted with an “error” message.

Bev, always a good detective, finally located another five-number code listed inside the glove compartment.  Unlike the previous one, it had no numbers higher than six, so soon I once more had a working radio!

Just think; I only have to wait two more weeks until the old car is recalled to fix the passenger -side airbag.  For the last two months I have not been able to have a passenger in the front seat, but maybe that was a good thing while I had no working radio, for the poor passenger would have had to listen to my singing.   Let’s face it; my voice would have made the car’s honking seem almost pleasant!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The End of the World

Dad hardly ever missed watching the nightly news on TV.  One evening in April of 1959, the announcer stated that Florence Houteff, the leader of the Seventh-Day Adventist Davidians, had predicted that the world would end the very next day.  Unfortunately, if she was correct I might have to spend my last hours in school!  What a bummer!

The following morning, after packing my lunch and eating a bowl of cereal, I trudged off to school, wondering if I’d ever again see my house or shuffle through my beloved baseball cards.  Of course, on the brighter side of things, if Mrs. Houteff was correct I would no longer have to mow the lawn or help paint the house.

Perhaps I would not have been so terrified if I’d realized that folks had begun doomsday predictions  before the birth of Christ.  Even a pope had once figured out when the end would come.  Innocent III was certain that the final curtain call would take place somewhere in the year 1284.  On the other hand, Martin Luther explained that the end would come no later than 1600.

When Christopher Columbus’s prediction wasn’t fulfilled in 1656 he simply recalculated and came up with the year 1658.  Cotton Mather, the Puritan minister, lived by the slogan “try, try again.”  He had doomsday predictions for 1697, 1716, and 1736! 

The Shakers picked the year 1792.  When that didn’t pan out they selected 1794.  John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, was surprised when 1836 ended and most folks were still around.  Representatives of the Catholic Apostolic Church were disappointed when 1901 was not the last year.

These are only a sample of doomsday predictions, but you get the point. 

At school on that appointed day it was difficult to concentrate.  After saying the pledge to the flag and listening to the principal drone on and on over the p. a. system for several minutes we began language arts class.  I was called upon to read, but had lost my place.

Somehow, someway, lunchtime rolled around and we were still alive and well.  Because this could be my last meal the peanut butter sandwich, the cookie, and an apple took on a special significance.  Maybe I should have broken into the old piggybank so that I could have gone over to the nearby malt shop, for if the lady was correct the money in my account would no longer serve any purpose.

At one in the afternoon we were working on math, but of course, my mind was elsewhere.  Our teacher gave us an assignment, but I decided to wait until after midnight to do it just in case the prophesy was correct.

At about 1:30 we were still here so as usual we went outside for a fifteen - minute recess.  While the other kids jumped rope, played softball, and climbed the monkey bars, I stood by the bicycle rack, checking the time on my watch and wondering when this great event would begin.

Naturally, I hoped that Mrs. Houteff’s prediction was premature by a few million years or so, but if it was correct, I preferred that the end would come at the end of the recess period.  After returning to the classroom we were scheduled to take a long and difficult science test.  Why go through all that agony for nothing?

Thank goodness, just like the prophesiers before her, Mrs. Houteff was incorrect.  The scary thing is that someday someone will get it right.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Negotiating a Ransom

I had been reading about some of the more famous kidnapping cases in which huge ransoms were paid.  Then I got to wondering how my wife Bev would handle such a situation if some bad guys grabbed me.

“First of all,” she said, “no one would kidnap you because you are not famous, and even more importantly, you’re not rich.  A crook would have to be pretty stupid to kidnap a retired school teacher.  You don’t see too many of your kind driving Cadillacs, living in mansions, and owning yachts.”

”But the economy hasn’t been so hot lately,” I retorted.  “Maybe there aren’t enough millionaires to go around.”

“Don’t flatter yourself,” my better half replied.  “No kidnappers are that desperate.”

“Okay, just for the sake of conversation let’s say that I’m kidnapped and you receive a note demanding $500,000 for my release.”

“That would be like trying to get blood out of a turnip.”

“So what would you do?” I asked.

“Naturally, I’d negotiate.  Since we don’t have any money maybe the bad guys would settle for a batch of my famous mint brownies.”

“That’s all I mean to you?  A batch of brownies?”

“Well, if they were polite I’d throw in a few homemade cookies. You know, the ones with the cherry fillings.”

“Would you be willing to give up our big-screen TV?”

“Well, husbands are a dime a dozen, but a good TV is expensive, and like I said, retired teachers aren’t exactly rolling in the dough.”

“Couldn’t you take a second mortgage on the house?”

“My mother told me never to remortgage the house unless it was an emergency.”

“My kidnapping wouldn’t be an emergency?”

“My mother wouldn’t think so.  As a matter of fact, she might throw in some cash if the bad guys would keep you.  Don’t worry, honey;  I would get you rescued safely and soundly.”


“ Simple.  I would use delaying tactics.”

“What do you mean?”

“After having you for one full day they would get pretty tired of hearing your old jokes.”

“I call them classics.”

“On the second day of your captivity you’d probably bore them to tears with those goofy political arguments.”

“I can’t help it because I’m an informed citizen.”

“I figure that by the third day they’d be plugging their ears with toilet tissue as you rambled on about all those trivial sports facts.”

“Come on; what crooks wouldn’t want to know Babe Ruth’s lifetime batting average?  So what’s your point?”

“After holding you for three days the bad guys would start negotiating with me.  I figure that I could stiff them for $500,000 just to take you off their hands.”

“You’d do that?”

“Why not?  We have bills to pay.  You were a school teacher, you know.”