Monday, April 16, 2018

The Roosevelts Speak

1.  “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

2. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  Franklin D. Roosevelt.

3. “My father always wanted to be the corpse at every funeral, the bride at every wedding and the baby at every christening.” Alice Roosevelt Longworth, President Theodore Roosevelt’s eldest child.

4. “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”   Theodore Roosevelt.

5. “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”  Eleanor Roosevelt.

6. “Be sincere; be brief; be seated.”  Franklin Roosevelt.

7. “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anyone, come and sit here by me.”  Alice Roosevelt Longworth.

8. “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”  Theodore Roosevelt.

9. “When you cease to make a contribution you begin to die.”  Eleanor Roosevelt.

10. “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”  Franklin D. Roosevelt.

11. “He (Calvin Coolidge) looks as though he’s been weaned on a pickle.”  Alice Roosevelt Longworth.

12. “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”  Theodore Roosevelt.

13. “You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude.”  Eleanor Roosevelt.

14. “It is common sense to take a method and try it.  If it fails, admit it frankly and try another, but above all try something.”  Franklin D. Roosevelt.

15. “I’ve always believed in the adage that the secret of eternal youth is arrested development.”  Alice Roosevelt Longworth.

16. “When they call the roll in the Senate the Senators do not know whether to answer ‘Present’ or ‘Not Guilty.’”  Theodore Roosevelt.

17. “Friendship with one self is all important because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.”  Eleanor Roosevelt.

18. “The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government.”  Franklin D. Roosevelt.

19. “I live by three rules.  I eat when I’m hungry, sleep when I’m tired and scratch when I itch.”  Alice Roosevelt Longworth.

20. “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”  Theodore Roosevelt.

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Generation Gap

Sometimes we forget just how different life can be for the next generation.  Occasionally while reminiscing we take for granted that the “youngins” will understand what we are talking about when in fact they haven’t a clue, and often we foolishly believe that they will cherish the same things that we oldsters valued so long ago. 

Many years ago I told my son Todd about the old-fashioned telephone that my grandparents used until I was about six or seven years old.  The poor misguided youngster thought that a party line was linked to your best buddies’ homes so that you could automatically dial them and set up a great get-together!   I had a lot of explaining to do.

Later I told him about a college basketball coach who had recruited several great players.  They were all excellent scorers but left something to be desired on defense, prompting the coach to proclaim that his athletes couldn’t guard Marilyn Monroe in a phone booth.  Todd then asked what a phone booth is.  After a thorough explanation he had yet another question: “What is a Marilyn Monroe?”  I must be terribly old or he is extremely young.  Maybe it’s a little bit of both.

On at least one occasion my daughter Kayla also had one of those deer-in-the-headlights moments.  Living across the street from us was a very nice elderly gentleman who had served in the army during World War II.  For some reason he had been stationed in that dangerous and far-away place we call Hollywood.  Taking advantage of the situation, he had his picture taken with many movie stars of that era.

While visiting our neighbor I noticed a picture on a stand.  Hoping to impress my daughter, I proclaimed: “Look, Kayla; here is a picture of Sully with Jack Benny.”

Looking at me in a bewildered manner, she asked, “What’s a Jack Benny?”  If Mr. Benny had been there, he would have paused for a long moment before saying, “Well….”

Todd had no idea that  newspapers had once been delivered by kids.  However, he does remember seeing an adult drive up to our mailbox and stuff in a paper before quickly zooming off to the next house, leaving behind a dark cloud of grayish smoke. 

I told Todd about my brother’s gigantic paper route that had been made up of three smaller ones.  Every day he filled a bag with newspapers and began walking the route, expertly flipping those papers onto the customers’ porches as he hurried along.  Later in the week he went to each house to collect the money owed.

My son believed that this constituted unethical child slave labor.  Besides, he argued, it is a proven fact that too much walking can stunt your growth (He has his mom’s sense of humor).  Maybe he has a point, for my brother is only about five feet, eight inches tall.  I am too, but I never had a paper route.  Perhaps walking to and from school every day stunted my growth.  It was uphill both ways, you know!

During those long-ago days of our youth my friends and I spent many hours playing “electronic football.”  Onto the metal field eleven players on each side of the ball were lined up along opposite sides of the line of scrimmage.  One guy on offense toted the ball.  After the offense and the defense were set the board was turned on and began vibrating.  The action would continue until a defensive guy would make contact with the ball carrier.  Sometimes the runner would get turned around and head the wrong way, but that was part of the fun.

When Todd was about twelve I discovered that some company was still making this game!  This, I thought,  would be a great opportunity to relive my childhood and share some great memories with my son.  The only problem was that Todd played video games, so to him the aforementioned football game seemed old-fashioned and silly.  Out of kindness, however, he did play around with it for a good ten minutes before stuffing it into the closet right behind the cat chow, the winter boots, and my wife’s exercise machine.  Oh well.

I try to keep things in perspective.  Although my children showed little interest (or understanding) in the childhood things that I hold dear, I’m happy that they have become productive, upstanding adults.  For what else can a parent ask?

As Porky Pig would say at the end of a Warner Brothers’ cartoon, “That’s all, folks!”  On second thought, strike that.  Probably my kids would just stare at me and ask, “What’s a Porky Pig?”

Monday, March 19, 2018

Robot Husbands

I love science fiction.  One of my favorite long-ago TV shows featured a bunch of twelve-foot tall creatures who came to earth with the stated objective of serving mankind.  This was not fake news, for the aliens quickly got us healthy, fattened us up, and then took many of us on a one-way trip to their planet, where they then served mankind as the main course at their fanciest restaurants!

So the other day I was excited about my friend’s conviction that in the not-too-distant future just about every task will be completed by robots that will be thousands of times smarter than we are.  Moreover, he said, these computerized machines could be made to look just like human beings.  My friend argued that someday people will actually have the option of marrying robots!

When I shared this with my wife Bev she initially  scoffed at the idea.  After careful consideration, however, she admitted that this might not be a bad thing: “If scientists and technicians can make human-like guys but make sure they don’t have the usual male human flaws, then that could be a good thing,” she conceded.

Content in the knowledge that my buddies and I are close to perfect, I asked, “What flaws are you talking about, dear?”

“Well, for one thing, those robot men would have to be programmed to not leave their dirty underwear and socks on the bedroom floor.”

“But then you would lose a valuable type of exercise.  Every time you have to bend over to pick up my dirty clothing you are burning tons of calories,” I defensively argued.

Ignoring my brilliant logic, she continued: “And, of course, a robot husband would have to be programmed to put the seat down after he used  the toilet.”

“Dear, I kind of doubt that a robot guy would have such bodily functions, but if robots do use the bathroom, then female ones should also be considerate and put the seat up for the guys.”

Now on a roll, Bev added: “There’s no way I’d pay for a robot husband unless he was programmed to never channel surf!  That drives me crazy!”

“Channel surfing sure beats watching five minutes of commercials,” I replied.

“Could I order a robot that isn’t crazy about sports?  Sometimes you watch four football games in a row, and look at your friend-he’s always out somewhere in that stupid bass boat!”

“I suppose you’d replace the robot’s sports programming with something else?” I sarcastically inquired.

“My robot husband would be programmed to shop.  He would love nothing more than to spend several hours with me in my favorite stores.  And he would watch hour after hour of romantic movies with me.  And sometimes, after watching those movies he might show a little emotion.  Maybe he’d even shed a tear or two.”

“Wait a minute,” I interjected,” I often show my emotions and even cry a little.”

“When is that?” she questioned.

“Whenever you hold your credit card above your head and shout, ‘Charge!” just before getting into your car and heading for the mall.”

Ignoring my weak attempt to make a joke, she continued: “And my robot husband would never waste his and my time by talking about politics, sports, and automobiles!”

“There’s only one problem with the changes you would make,” I cautioned.

“What’s that?” Bev asked.

“I’m not sure what you would have, but it wouldn’t be a man.”

Monday, March 5, 2018

Jazz Age Robbed Kids of their Childhoods-a 1927 Article

* Many times during the ‘50s and ‘60s my father declared that rock and roll was destroying America’s youth.  According to this 1927 article, however, jazz and what came with it had already ruined Dad’s generation.  Read the following and see what you think:
    The jazz age has stolen about four years of childhood from every American girl and boy.  Miss George Ann Lillard of Chicago, pioneer in the girl camp movement, makes this sad assertion.  Miss Lillard knows her girls.  She has studied them for years in her summer camp in Hebron, N. H. and is here now preparing for another summer out-of-doors.
    “Ten years ago the girls who could catch the natural gypsy spirit of camp life and enter into it best(?) were girls from 12 to 16 years old,” she said.  “Now it takes much younger girls-tots from 8 to 10.  One camp out of Chicago accepts children from 2 to 6 years.
    “This shortening of childhood’s span is a step backward in civilization,”  is the way Miss Lillard sums up the tendency of the age.  “Biologically it lowers the race.”
    She cites the animal kingdom to prove her statement.  The length of time from birth to maturity is one sign of a higher form of life.  Reptiles and fish take a short time to mature.  Kittens are full grown in a few months.  But their lives end in nine years or so.  Horses take longer to reach maturity and live often to 30 years.  Man, the highest form of life, enjoys a greater span and needs more childhood to prepare him for it.
    “This sophisticated age has made little men and women of its children,” she asserts.  “The clothes of boys and girls are an indication of their thoughts and actions.  Long pants like papa’s for the boys, French frocks, hats, even purses just like mamma’s for the girls.  Children are surfeited with life … before they are old enough to start to live.
    “At their parties paid entertainers amuse them.  Their whole lives are artificial.  Formerly, little girls who wanted to act ‘grown up’ would lengthen their skirts and put up their hair.  Now they rouge and smoke cigarettes.”
    Miss Lillard described some of the innovations in the new models of little eight-year-old girls.  She found one child who was making a collection of face creams.  A tot of 10 brought to camp at least a dozen bottles of beauty lotions.  A newcomer of nine remarked about the lovely time she had on her last day at home-she had had a facial, a shampoo, water wave and a manicure.
    “Get back to the simple life if you want to cut through the artificiality of the age,” is Miss Lillard’s advice.  “Camp life is natural, simple-the kind of life one cannot lead until he has shed sophistication and artificiality.  Therefore, camp life promises a remedy for the blasé lives of today.
    “Not camp life just for children.  Adults need it just as much (not this adult!)  For their own sakes and also for the sake of their children.  Enjoyment of outdoors and appreciation of sunrises, mountains, the ocean give balance to life, as well as food to the soul.  The very best way to combat the evils(?) of this age is to become as little children and enter the kingdom of camping.  It will put health into bodies and give a sense of proportion to life.”

Monday, February 19, 2018

Not Everyone Loved the Beatles

* My father would have been the perfect candidate for the presidency of the “Hate the Beatles Club.”  As he watched the “Fab Four” perform on the Ed Sullivan show, he looked at me and stated,” Those pathetic #@$%^&*% idiots should be sent back to England!  But first they should be given haircuts!”  A few minutes later, he commented, “Each time those fools shout, ‘yeah, yeah, yeah,’ I want to cover my ears  and shout, ‘no, no, no!’”
Of course, the more Dad complained about the British rockers the more I loved them.  Just a few years before they came along, any money I earned was spent for comic books; now every available dime was saved for Beatles’ records.  Being no dummy, I hid those records in my sock drawer so that the Old Man couldn’t  smash them into tiny pieces!

Dad, however, was not the only adult to despise the Beatles and/or their music:

1. “(The Beatles are) The most repulsive group of men I’ve ever seen.”

2. “They sound like a group of disorganized amateurs whose voices seem to be fighting each other rather than blending.”

3. “Guitar groups are on the way out.  The Beatles have no future in show business.”

4. “Drinking Dom Perignon ‘53 above 38 degrees is as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.”

5. “The Beatles must be a huge joke, a wacky gag, a gigantic put-on.  And if, as the fellow insisted on ‘What’s My Line?,’ they’re selling 20,000 Beatle wigs a day in New York at $2.98 a shake-then I guess everyone wants to share the joke, and the profits.”

6. “With their bizarre shrubbery, the Beatles are obviously a press agent’s dream combo.  Not even their mothers would claim that they sing well.  But the hirsute thickets they affect make them remarkable, and they project kittenish charm which drives the immature, shall we say, ape.”

7. “Visually they are a nightmare…Musically they are a near disaster…Their lyrics (punctuated by nutty shouts of ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’)  are a catastrophe.”

8.“The noise (at a Beatles’ concert) was deafening throughout, and I couldn’t hear a word they sang or a note they played; (it was) just one long ear-splitting din.”

9. “What a bottomless chasm of vacuity they reveal!  Those who flock around the Beatles (are) the least fortunate of their generation: the dull, the idle, the failures.”

10. “Just thinking about the Beatles seems to induce mental disturbance.  They have a commonplace, rather dull act that hardly seems to merit mentioning, yet people hereabouts have mentioned scarcely anything else for a couple of days.”

11.  “Stiff lip, old chap; even the Beatles will pass!  The question is, what next?”

12. “Don’t let the Beatles bother you.  If you don’t think about them, they will go away, and in a few more years they will probably be bald… And teenagers, go ahead and enjoy your Beatlemania.  It won’t be fatal and will give you a lot of laughs a few years hence when you find one of their old records or come across a picture of Ringo in a crew cut.”

13. “I would consider it sacrilegious to say  anything less than that they are God awful.  They are unbelievably horrible, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art that they qualify as crowned heads of anti-music, even as the imposter popes went down in history as ‘anti-popes.’”

14. “The Beatles vocal quality can be described as hoarsely incoherent, with the minimal enunciation necessary to communicate the schematic texts.”

15. One more from Dad: “I never thought I’d say this, but after listening to those clowns  Elvis doesn’t seem so bad.”

* It seems to me that criticizing the Beatles is like complaining that Babe Ruth couldn’t hit.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A Mouse in the House

Usually my wife Bev is  courageous and brave.  When her mother died, when her father and stepmother were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and when her sister battled cancer,  Bev stood tall and set an example for us all.  That’s why I was so surprised a couple days ago.

I was lying on the couch in the family room, alternately reading the newspaper and dozing off, when I heard Bev in the kitchen scream: “Help!  Help me!”  Thinking perhaps a burglar had gained access to our home, I hurriedly grabbed a broom which could serve as some kind of weapon.

Upon entering the kitchen I saw my wife standing on top of a chair.  “What’s wrong?” I asked.

“He’s behind the toaster!” she screamed.

My first thought was that this must indeed be a small burglar.  Gathering my wits, I asked, “Who’s behind the toaster?”

“It’s a mouse!” she exclaimed.

Normally I’m your everyday coward, but in this case someone had to take charge.  Grabbing the front of the toaster, I slowly moved it away from the wall.  No mouse was present, but a few droppings definitely indicated that one had been there.  I might not be Columbo, but I do have some deductive skills.

After I searched under the stove, refrigerator, and the sink, Bev gathered enough courage to step off the chair.  She rushed into the living room and soon returned with our oldest cat, Tressel, in her arms.

Putting the cat on the counter by the toaster, she said to him:  “If you catch that mouse I’ll give you extra kitty treats.” 

Tressel did not reply, but he did sniff around the toaster and a few other appliances on the counter before hopping onto the floor and running down the hallway.

“Thanks a lot!”  Bev shouted after him.

Going into the basement, Bev returned with four mousetraps.  “Tressel won’t do the job so I’ll take care of it myself!”  she uttered.

“You can’t put those traps out; one of the cats could get a paw snapped!” I counseled her.

So for the next two hours Bev created boxes with little openings that a skinny mouse but not a fat cat could get into.  She then placed the box-covered traps strategically around the house.

Since I was already tired before this great adventure began, I turned in early.  Upon awakening at about one a.m., I noticed that my better half was not in bed.  Getting up, I discovered that she was sleeping in the guest room.  I also discovered that she had locked the door and had stuffed a towel under it.  Shrugging my shoulders, I went back to bed.

By the time I awakened the next morning, Bev was already up, preparing breakfast.  Although still wearing her nightgown, she had donned a pair of boots.

“Why are you wearing those?” I inquired.

Without missing a beat, she explained: “That mouse might still be here, and so I’m not giving him a chance to bite my toes!”

When I questioned her about sleeping in the guestroom, she explained that the towel was to keep the mouse from getting in and attacking her while she slept.  Evidently, she locked the door so that a six-foot -tall rodent couldn’t turn the handle and then stroll into the room.

After breakfast our youngest cat, Zorro, walked into the family room and proudly displayed his trophy-the dead mouse-that he held in his mouth.  I’ll give you two guesses who disposed of the carcass.  For his valiant efforts, Zorro was rewarded with several kitty treats.  Relieved, Bev returned the boots to the closet.

I am not afraid of mice.  Now spiders, that’s another matter!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Wit and Wisdom of Winston Churchill

l*Sir Winston Churchill served as the Prime Minister of England from 1940-1945 and again from 1951-1955.  His iron will, dedication, and courage set the example for the British to withstand Nazi terror during World War II.  As you will see, he left us many thought-provoking statements as well as some very humorous ones.  Read and enjoy:

1. “I could not live without Champagne.  In victory I deserve it.  In defeat I need it.”

2. “Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to h*** in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”

3. “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

4. “I have never developed indigestion from eating my words.”

5. “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

6. Photographer: “I hope, sir, that I will shoot your picture on your hundredth birthday.” Churchill: “I don’t see why not, young man.  You look reasonably fit and healthy.”

7. Woman to Churchill: “Winston, you are drunk, and what’s more, you are disgustingly drunk.”  Churchill: “My dear, you are ugly, and what’s more, you are disgustingly ugly, but tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be ugly.”

8. “He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”

9. “Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which we will not put.”

10. “You have enemies?  Good.  That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

11. “The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.”

12. “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.  (This sounds like a great message for both educators and politicians).

13. “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”  (WWII).

14. “In those days he was wiser than he is now; he used frequently to take my advice.”

15. “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.”

16. “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity.  An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

17. Angry lady: “Winston, if I were your wife I’d put poison in your coffee.”  Churchill: “If I were your husband I’d drink it.”

18. “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

19. “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

20. “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be.  We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets.  We shall never surrender.”  (Take that, Hitler!)