Thursday, February 16, 2017

We just Lost a Good Man

Jack Hampson, my father-in-law, recently died at the age of ninety.  He was never a football star or a famous singer; his story will never appear in any history books.  Yet, he lived an extraordinary life that affected so many people in so many positive ways.

Jack was a gentle, caring man, a man who was sensitive to the feelings of others.  He lived with the credo that God doesn’t make junk and therefore, all lives matter.  During our thirty-five year association I never heard him say anything negative about another human being.

My brother-in-law once told me about his first meeting with Jack.  Arriving to pick up his date (now my sister-in-law), Keith thought to himself, “This is the nicest person I’ve ever met.”  I’ll second that.

For some strange reason Jack’s mother-in-law, who in most ways was a wonderful person, believed that Jack was not “good enough” for her daughter.  Many times Jack opened his heart to me, explaining how badly it felt to be regarded as somehow inferior. 

Many years later, however, when his mother-in-law was elderly and no longer able to live alone, he invited her into his house, even adding a new bathroom so that she wouldn’t have to climb the steps.  I’m not so certain that I could be that big a man.

While only in her sixties, Anne, Jack’s wife, became ill and eventually was totally dependent upon him.  Although Jack was active in many organizations, he gave them up so that he could care for his wife and keep her at home.  Thanks to him she never spent a day in a care center.

Jack was a deeply religious man but he never tried to pressure others to see it his way.  Instead, he set a good example which others came to emulate.  He saw good in every man and woman, for he viewed them as sacred children of God. 

My wife, her brother, and her sister hit the “Dad Lottery” with Jack.  He tried to teach them the best values he knew and he loved them with all his heart.  Most of all, when the time came he let them be adults.  Jack realized that when our children grow up they might make decisions counter to their parents’ beliefs and customs, but he realized that if his children were to truly be adults they must think for themselves.  But always Jack loved them unconditionally, and he let it be known that he was there for them if his help was needed.

For the last five and a half years he has been living in assisted living in the town where Bev and I live.  Jack’s children-Bev, Dave and Val- sadly watched as dementia slowly stole their father’s personality-the personality that they had long ago come to love, admire, and respect. 

But even in the darkest days he never lost his basic kindness and modesty.  Eventually he could not remember his loved ones’ names, but his eyes would light up whenever a family member walked into the room.

It was a pleasure and an honor for all his children and in-laws to serve him, just as he had so long served his children, his spouses, his church,, his community, and his country (he was a WWII vet).  We will miss bringing him his favorite foods-chocolate milkshakes, theater popcorn (with bunches and bunches of butter), pickles, and anything else as long as it was covered with mustard or jelly.

Certainly he was not perfect; no person is, but when your biggest fault is that for years you rooted for Penn State instead of Ohio State you have indeed lived a special life.

If every man, woman, and child had Jack’s gentle and forgiving nature, if every person  was filled with the love and patience that he displayed, I believe that there would no longer be war, murder, and other such atrocities. 

No doubt upon reaching the Pearly Gates, St. Peter greeted him with the following: “A job well done, Jack.  You have earned a spot here for eternity.”  Our hope and our faith is that one day we will once again meet this extraordinary man.

Monday, February 6, 2017

You Know You're Getting Old When...

1. …your back goes out more than you do.

2. … a hot meal trumps a hot date.

3. …an “all-nighter” means you didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.

4. …you hear “snack, crackle, and pop” at the breakfast table but the sounds are not coming from your cereal.

5. …your birthday candles cost more than the cake.

6. …you can do anything that you could do forty years ago, but it hurts more and takes longer.

7. …it takes longer to rest from an activity than it does to get tired from doing it.

8. …happy hour is a good nap.

9. …someone compliments you on your turtleneck sweater, but you are not wearing one.

10. …your knees buckle but your belt won’t.

11. …your doctor tells you to slow down instead of a police officer giving that warning.

12. …you describe your knees as “the good one” and “the bad one” instead of “right” and “left.”

13. …you and your teeth no longer sleep together.

14. …for safety reasons the fire chief will not allow you to use your full allotment of birthday candles.

15. …your favorite TV station is the Weather Channel.

16. …you turn off the lights to save a little money instead of for romantic reasons.

17. …you need either stronger glasses or longer arms to read the newspaper.

18. …it takes twice as long to look half as nice as you once did.

19. …your old clothes stored in the attic are once more in style.

20. …your little black book contains mostly the names and addresses of medical doctors.

21. …most parts of your body hurt and the other parts don’t work right.

22. …all your public school teachers are either dead or living in rest homes.

23. …your pharmacist becomes your closest friend.

24. …upon awakening you actually look like your driver’s license picture.

25. …you know the lyrics for elevator music.

***** Remember, getting old is merely mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter!  Have a great day!

Monday, January 23, 2017

The "Good Old Days?"

  As far as my son Todd is concerned, his “old man” grew up during an era not much different from that of the Neanderthals and the woolly mammoths. In fact, when it comes to technology, he believes that the years between 1950 and 1968 were truly the “dark ages.“
    Todd does give me credit for being tough; he admits that he couldn’t survive the summer months without the aid of air conditioning.  Granted, some folks “back in the day” had air conditioning in both their cars and their homes, but in our house we survived the hot summers with open windows, fans, and cold drinks.  The only “air conditioning” Dad’s car had was when we rolled down the windows.
    “Primitive” is the term Todd most often used when I explained that we somehow survived without computers, cell phones, or video games.   He just couldn’t understand that the children of the ‘50s and ‘60s actually had fun  doing things together.  I described how, hour after hour, we neighborhood kids  played basketball, football, softball, board games, and even games that we invented.  He was not impressed.
    However, the most “primitive” part of my childhood, according to my son, centered around the TV set.  “Back in my day,” I explained, “we had a grand total of four stations, and until the mid-sixties we watched each show in glorious black and white.”
    “Black and white sucks,” Todd remarked.
    “So does our vacuum cleaner, so what’s your point?” I  sarcastically countered.
    “Dad,” he replied,” if that’s a sample of humor from your childhood days then that sucked, too.”
    Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of a clever rejoinder.  “Of course, we only had one television set,” I continued.
    “You’re kidding me!” he exclaimed.  “So what did Grandpa do while you watched your favorite shows?”
    “Actually, we kids could only watch what we wanted until Dad got home from work.  After supper we had the choice of watching what he chose or finding something else to do.”
    “Wow! I’m glad I didn’t have to watch your junk!  I could only take so many ‘Bonanza’ reruns!”
    “Hey! Watch it!” I half screamed.  “That was a good show! While we’re on the topic of TV, let me tell you this: back then, if you wanted to change channels you had to actually get off your backside and turn the knob.”
    “Is that what you call those things on the front of the set? “ he asked.  “I’ve noticed them, but I had no idea what they were for.”
    “Listen, son,” I continued, “We didn’t have all the technology that you grew up with, but we had fun.”
    “It sounds like life was pretty rough, Dad,“ the young one observed.     
    “You don’t know the half of it, son; I had to walk barefoot ten miles to school, no matter what the weather was like, and it was uphill  both going to the schoolhouse and returning home.”
    “I don’t believe you, Pop!” Todd laughingly replied.
    “Well,” I responded weakly, “as you can see, without all those doodads we had time to develop our imaginations.”

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.