Friday, December 30, 2011


I was about thirteen when I first read Invictus, by William Ernest Henley, it immediately became my most favorite piece of prose and has remained near the top of my list of favorite things to read and feel, even today over five decades later.  I was quite upset when Timothy McVeigh chose to recite that beautiful poem as his last words on the day that a needle was inserted into his vein to deliver, via the attached tubes, drugs to stop his heart stopping his life in exchange for the lives of one hundred sixty eight men, women and children whose lives he stole and for the injuries to eight hundred more occupants of the federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and for the families he destroyed.

The words of Invictus recited by a heroic figure on his or her death bed would seem appropriate, but just the thought of a mass murderer thinking his life could be reflected in those words simply sickens me.

Henley was a heroic figure. At the age of twelve he was stricken by Tuberculosis of the bone and at age seventeen, in order to save his life, it was necessary to amputate his leg just below his knee.  Henley lived in England, had he lived in the United States, he would have joined the untold number of young men who lost limbs as a result of battlefield action during the American Civil War that had just ended.

Just like the Americans who had to adjust, Henley led an active life until he died at age fifty-three in 1903, the year my father was born.  He was a man so full of vitality that he inspired his friends with his active lifestyle, even though his life was interrupted for often and sometimes long stints in the hospital.  His friend, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote to him after the publication of Treasure Island and said:

"I will now make a confession. It was the sight of your maimed strength and masterfulness that begot Long John Silver...the idea of the maimed man, ruling and dreaded by the sound, was entirely taken from you".

For those of you that may have never read Invictus, I will share the beautiful words and deepest thoughts of a beautiful man who chose to share them with the world.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

In truth, life in general is simply a walk through hell.  This thing we call life and cling to so stingily is just years of sadness, tears, and intense sorrow.  We go through life wanting what we can never acquire and wanting to hold a position we can never attain.  We harm others as we scramble after the same limited rewards.

Love is a very elusive prize but a very common emotion.  Each of us crave love at some level.  We each have our own definition of exactly what love is. Love can be a dangerous thing that involves sharing the most intimate thoughts, words, and actions with others and risking hurt if that love is unrequited or the mutual emotion dies.  But, without love, life would be nothing.  While love could be fleeting, much of the time it is lasting, everything else, however, is definitely fleeting.  Those material things we clamor after, many times stepping on friends and foes alike will remain here in the material world when our time here is expired, but love will follow us beyond the grave.

Henley, through his life as well as his words gives us a blueprint for how to live, and die.  No matter how badly the world beats us up, we still have the opportunity, if we take it, to stand tall, shake our fists, and yell to the world and to the heavens that we may have been beaten but we did not break and that what ever punishment or reward awaits us at the next stage of life, we earned by living a life of virtue and avoiding the moral corruptions that surround and tempt us constantly and ignoring the taunts of others.  We can all be heroes if we do not waver and as we pass from here to there we can have on our lips that proclamation best expressed in the last two lines of Invictus.

When I read the words of Invictus, my thoughts have a tendency to drift to the Jews, and others, who were subjected to the most unthinkable horrors known to the modern world during the Holocaust Period of Nazi Germany, and yet held true to who they were and did not give up their personhood, and in the end, those who survived, could stand, for themselves as well as those who had their lives snuffed out by the animals who established and ran the camps, bloodied but unbowed, victorious against those that sought to destroy them.

Tim McVeigh had no right to utter those words, he was no hero, he destroyed life.  He appointed himself the arbiter of what was right and what was wrong, then became the executioner of those he judged to be wrong.

Those who walked out of the death camps, those who gave their lives or limbs on battlefields, those who stood against hatred and violence were heroes and can claim the message of Henley’s words as their own.



Recently I watched a program on the local PBS station.  The program, “John Sebastian Presents: Folk Rewind” was the backdrop for the PBS fund drive.  As I watched, it became evident to me that the program meant more to me than the PBS telethon and brought back memories and stirred deep emotions      some caused me to face very disturbing questions.

So that you understand my need to look in the mirror and ask questions that may not have an answer, I was born in 1944.  I grew up during the most volatile and rapid change in the psyche of the nation and, in my opinion, the world.  I refer to myself as a child of the sixties because, even though I, and most people of my age, had thought about and discussed the future, who we were going to be in that future and how we would fit into that future, before the sixties arrived, it was during the 1960s that we put into practice those things we said we believed, those things we said were important to us and to the world, and when we became who we think are, and that we have been throughout these several decades.  For the record, I served our country during the turmoil in Southeast Asia.

Those of us that grew up in that period had high ideals, many will not see it that way, but we were out to build a better world.  Each of us, no matter our political ideology, social class, or race felt that we were contributing to the future as we envisioned it.  For some reason, I was part of what you may consider to be the more radical segment of the Post World War II Generation.

I grew up in North Eastern Ohio.  The Civil Rights Movement was just gathering steam and we did not understand what it was all about.  Where we lived, there was no race problem, at least to our young eyes.  Black and white lived near each other, we went to school together, played sports together, hung out together after school, some of us Do-Wopping, hoping that we were going to be the next Dion and the Belmonts or The Drifters.  As I got older, and after my excursion into the heart of the activity, I noticed that blacks lived near whites, but not like next door.  I realized that, even in Ohio, there were places where black people did not go and I realized the degrading nature of some of the names that were used in reference to black people.  By the time I left home, I heard young people, my age, using the very words we hated so much when we heard them form our parents generation.

We had such high ideals and such high hopes of changing the world, and then we were gone.  We were still here physically but most of us had to change our focus from changing the world to putting food on the tables of our young families.  Advancing in our jobs so that we could make more money and have more things became more important to us than the billions of our tax dollars that were being spent around the world influencing governments so as to shape them into our vision of what they should be.

Suddenly one day, we looked around and discovered that we had become the very thing that we had fought so hard to destroy.  We had become them.  We were part of the establishment, living our lives of affluence, always wanting more and not caring about the suffering that many may have endured to bring it all to us.

We dreamed, and fought for real education, education that would prepare students for the world they would someday enter.  The two sizes fits all educational system of the 1950s needed to be updated with more individual attention for those with learning difficulties and curricula designed with the person in mind rather than the cookie cutter systems we had all grown accustomed to.

We dreamed of, and fought for equality.  Not just for the word but for the meaning.  We wanted every person in America to be afforded the same right to a good education as his or her neighbor.  We wanted every person of legal age to participate in the election of government officials and to vote on issues and to run for and be elected to government offices.  We wanted any person with the means to pay for a home to be able to buy a home in any neighborhood and to live in harmony with their neighbors as part of the community.

We dreamed of, and fought for peace.  Peace, in our community, in our country, and in our world.

What happened?  Where and when did our dreams get derailed?  To where did we, and our big dreams of a better world disappear?

Today, the poverty we dreamed of eliminating encompasses more of our countries citizens and is deeper than any time since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  To add to the despair of those in the most need, members of our congress are fighting to eliminate the very programs put into place, during and after that Great Depression, to ensure that the basic needs of all American Citizens would be met.

Shady real estate brokers and their equally shady Wall Street cohorts cheated the process of home sales and the handling of the subsequent mortgages so severely that they have sent this country’s and the world’s economies to near total collapse, and profited from the whole mess.  As their empires began to disintegrate, we, the taxpayers, were forced to bail them out of their troubles and save their companies.  They used our tax dollars to pay themselves, the very people who destroyed our economy, put millions on the unemployment line, caused thousands of businesses to close, pension funds to shrink to such a level that made retirement for most a forgotten dream and destroyed the lives of many already counting on their pensions to live, multi-million dollar bonuses.

We have engaged in two wars lasting a decade and financed by raiding the Social Security Trust Fund and borrowing money from China.

As these events unfolded and continue to unfold, our national balance sheet presents us with a deficit so large it is hard to comprehend.  The answer for many of our members of congress is to eliminate the programs that assist the poor and elderly while refusing to allow a slightly higher tax rate to be levied on the richest, very small, segment of our population.  Our country has become populated with people whose motto seems to be, “I got mine, screw you.”

Somehow and by someone, a determination has been made that our public school systems are failing students.  There seems to be two main reasons cited for this situation; the failure of some students to pass a standardized test and the fact that teachers belong to a union and therefore get paid too much.  The resolution; get rid of the public schools, except to serve the poor and basically disenfranchised students, and use our tax money to fund private schools, catering only to those students the private, for profit, school operators deem worthy of their particular school and whose parents can pay the additional tuition.  This plan will, as it is intended to do, leave the children with the most need stuck in the remaining public schools with very limited resources, like books, teachers, chalk, you get the picture!

I do not have enough years left to list all the wrongs I see in this once great country.  What disappoints me most is my generation, including me, that gave up the fight far too soon and then failed to pass the torch.  The Occupy Movement is far to disorganized and lacks the commitment, and intestinal fortitude, to bring this country back to its senses.  What we need is another round of “children of the sixties” to wake us all back up before it is too late.  It may be too late now!  Think about it!

This was written by a nineteen year old young man in 1965.  This video is one of many.  Some show scenes from the 1960s, some, like this one are updated.

Same old world, only worse


Saturday, November 26, 2011


Recently, I noticed that a friend on mine had posted the following statement on Facebook.

“I don't care who this offends because this is what I believe. I am sick and tired of every year when CHRISTMAS comes around; there are people who want to take CHRIST out of CHRISTMAS because it might offend someone. Well, how about all of the CHRISTIANS? What about offending us because you are taking our CHRIST out of CHRISTMAS!?!? CHRIST IS CHRISTMAS!!! If you aren't celebrating CHRIST then why are you celebrating? CHRISTMAS is about the birth of our SAVIOR! CHRISTMAS is one of a few holidays left that celebrate my CHRIST! Leave my holiday alone!!! And tell everyone MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holidays! Repost if your not ashamed”

After I read it, I thought about it for a long while and wondered if what greeting we us at Easter and Christmas was an issue and why.

I began by considering the fact that many people that are not Christians, but still shop in the same establishments as they do throughout the rest of the year, would be offended and how badly.  I think it would be wrong to intentionally offend a person just because they are of a different faith.  So, I started up my handy dandy search engine and stepped off on my quest to see who might be offended.

I decided to look at two possibilities; other religious holidays that share the same season a Christmas and how many people would be offended because of their particular religion.

I discovered only two major celebrations that coincide with the Christmas Season, Kwanza and Chanukah.

Chanukah (Hanukkah) is the Jewish Celebration of Lights which commemorates the reclamation of Jerusalem and the story about the one day supply of nondesecrated oil in the Temple after all the Syrian idols were removed.  Miraculously the oil lasted eight days, until a supply of usable oil arrived so that the Temple could be rededicated.  The celebration begins on December 20th through December 28th in 2011.  The celebration is based on the Jewish calendar so the dates are slightly different on our calendars each year.

Kwanza is a cultural celebration rather than a religious observance.  Kwanza begins on December 26th and ends January 1st.  Kwanza celebrates the African-American culture, who they are, what struggles they have faced and what their vision of the future is.  The name “Kwanza, is derived from the Kiswahili word meaning “first fruits.”

I do not have empirical evidence, but I would suggest that since it is not a religious celebration, most African-Americans would not expect store clerks and wait people to wish them a “Happy Kwanza”, unless it would be a business that actually participated in the celebration.  In my mind, most African-Americans, until the celebration becomes more established, would be offended by hearing “Merry Christmas” as opposed to “Happy Kwanza.”

Unless they are in an establishment that participates in the Chanukah celebration or they wore some identification indicating that they were not Christian but Jewish, I don’t think that Jewish people would be offended if a store clerk or an acquaintance were to wish them a “Merry Christmas.”

In my experiences, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’, a Christian organization, have been the most vocal in correcting me when I would wish them a “Merry Christmas” or mention anything about the holiday.

I walked down the other path I had decided on and looked at the population of the U.S. to see if the ethnic diversity would demand that Christians be more sensitive.

According to the CIA World Factbook, the U. S. is comprised of 79.96% white, 12.85% Black, 4.43% Asian, the other 2%+ is made up of Native Americans and a variety of other ethnic groups.

According to the latest Survey, 76% of the adult population of the United States identify as being Christian.  About 1% identify themselves as Jewish.  14% of respondents claimed no religion at all.  The remaining 9% is made up of Muslims, Buddhist, Hindu and a variety of non-conventional religious disciplines.

When I got to this point I realized that the number of people who would be offended by someone wishing them “Merry Christmas” was very small.  I could see no reason why stores would be concerned about the term.  I asked my wife what she meant when she wished someone “Merry Christmas”; she told me that when she was a lot younger it was a salutation of joy shared with other Christians but that over the years as Christmas became more commercialized, it was just two empty words, spoken out of habit.   That gave me even more to think about.

When I was about eleven or twelve, I remember passing a church’s outside announcement board that had the words ”At Christmas, whose birthday do we celebrate” A little lower was a picture of Santa Claus and another of Jesus Christ.  Above each picture were the word “His” and between them the word “or.”  That vision is as clear to me today as it was fifty-five years ago. And the question even more important that it was then.

Too many Christians complain about how commercial Christmas has become while they are shopping in every store within ten miles of their homes, buying every new gadget, toy, or gizmo on the market, and complaining because the clerks said, “have a nice holiday” as opposed to “Merry Christmas.”

Based on the uproar over the “war on Christmas” that someone with too much time on their hands dreamed up, one would expect to see most churches bursting at the seems on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Guess what!  Attendance has dwindled over the past fifty years to the point that most churches have given up on Christmas Eve services.  Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are filled with the self satisfaction for finding the best, most, and most expensive gifts, most of which will end up in the trash or the fall garage sale to make room for the new batch of stuff that will show up on the December 24th and 25th of the next year.  Most will never tell the Christmas Story much less contemplate its meaning.  The truth is, we don’t celebrate Christmas anymore, we celebrate the retail industry’s season of profits.  We celebrate our ability to spend money we don’t have and scorn those who have nothing to eat.  We celebrate with our big Christmas Eve parties while our brothers and sisters sleep in the cold, under a bridge or in an abandon building.  I hope Jesus does not come back like that.  The greeting we get from store clerks is irrelevant, because whatever greeting they use, those words are devoid of any meaning.

As Christians we should start backtracking to a time when everyone knew what Christmas was about.  Everyone knew the story of the birth of the savior of all mankind.  Giving gifts is fine, but if we call ourselves Christians, its time to walk the walk and celebrate the universes greatest gift, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God!

I hear arguments that Christmas is not the date of the birth of Christ, that it is a pagan holiday.  I know how we got December 25 as the day we celebrate the birth of Christ.   The accuracy of the date is unimportant, the meaning of the celebration, for Christians, is.

As a Christian, I believe the war that started way back in the Garden of Eden, the birth of Christ was just one very important day in the war, soon will come the last battle will be fought and everyone will know the true meaning of Christmas.

I’m glad I was given a push to think about Christmas, as I haven’t for a long time.  I thank that old friend who has caused me to remember whose birthday it is!


Monday, November 21, 2011


I wanted to wait until all the parades, picnics, car dealer’s, grocery store’s and department store’s sales had ended and all the politicians in the country had their five minutes of air time to talk about how much they respect and are devoted to caring for them, in other words until the noise died out for another year.  Now, I can talk about something strange related to Veteran’s Day and me.

Every time I have visited the black marble wall know as the Viet Nam Memorial, located in our nations capital, across the street from the Lincoln Memorial, I have wept openly and unashamedly as I read names of friends, and relatives, carved into my own reflection, looking back at me.

For each name I recognize, a whole encyclopedia of memories come alive in my mind.  I remember the sounds of their voices and the peculiar way each person has of walking; I remember the things we would talk and dream about when we were kids.  For the friends I made after leaving home, I remember how much we all changed during the eight weeks of basic training we endured, and how we thought we were really hot stuff after the various advanced training schools we attended.  I sometimes feel like I can remember every moment we had spent together.  It is an eerie experience but in a much larger sense, it is a cleansing and healing experience.

This year, on Memorial Day and as Veteran’s Day neared, I realized that as much as I remember about the men whose names are etched into the black marble wall, I remember almost nothing about the men’s names that are not etched there.  I had the honor to know and to serve with some of the best young men this country produced; yet all I have are some vague memories of them.  I kept in touch with a few of the guys for a short time, but we each had our own paths to follow and our lives to build.  I wondered why this phenomenon existed, and why, after so many decades, I am just now facing the fact of it’s existence.

Just as an aside, I was Regular Army (RA), meaning I joined the service.  Many of my friends were drafted.  When I joined the service, the draft age was twenty-three.  Many of my friends were as much as eight years older than me.  We would often talk about how unfair it was that they were pulled away from home and family or from college after they had worked so hard to start a life.  I remember that some of the guys had one or two kids and I remember two of the guys were working in research, having already earning a PhD, one in Physics, one in Chemistry.  I do remember one guy I worked with was actually a lecturer in Mathematics at U.C. Berkley, where he earned his PhD.  I remember him because of his education and the fact that he was Chinese and was not an American Citizen.  I remember that one of the guys wanted to coach football at my high school and another guy that had been an English teacher in Washington DC.  The thing that made him so memorable was the fact that he was very soft spoken but was an avid body builder and world-class power lifter.  I am sure that he did not have much classroom disruption.

It is just these few distant and dim memories, of just a few of the fantastic men I served with and who either lived through the Southeast Asian Experience or I have missed their names among the fifty-eight thousand whose names appear on “The Wall.”

I think the reason I remember the dead better than the live is because the owners of those names will always be guys in their late teens or early twenties.  There is not so much to remember because they never had the time to build a life, to build a career, to build a family.  They will always be kids, kids that were snatched away so suddenly, and so violently that some of us have still not processed the fact of their death.  I look in the mirror and I see someone who will be seventy in just a couple of years but when I see the names of my lost friends, I see young kids, most of them younger than some of my grandchildren.

To make my feelings clear, The men, it was an all male fighting force then, I served with, and who lived past their days in the military, were all great men, great friends, and men that America can, and should be, proud of.  Just because their memories have faded does not detract from the pride I have in them and the honor I feel to have been allowed to serve with them.  They are no less precious that those whose names grace The Wall.  The difference is that the dead are memories only; the living are reminders of whatever trauma each person suffered in those early days of our lives.  They make it all too real.

Our veterans deserve more from us than we have given them.  The dilution of Veteran’s benefits over the years is a disgrace.  To know that there are men and women who put their lives on the line for their country can now be found homeless and sleeping under bridges, denied health care for the hidden wounds that many have suffered due to head trauma at the hands of enemy IED makers, denied help in finding decent employment, denied the respect that each of them deserve from each one of us.

This same essay has likely been written by every generation that has faced war throughout history and will be written by every generation to come.  This is just my edition and I would like to use my edition to say to those that left us way too soon, in any armed conflict, THANK YOU and I am sorry for all you have missed.  To those who survived, I would like to say THANK YOU and to say I am sorry for the poor treatment many of you have received and will continue to receive.  I hope things will change for veterans of future generation.

To all Veterans, God bless you for your courage and your service! 

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Penn State Mess II

When I last wrote about the Penn State mess, in case you did not pick up on it, I was angry.  The longer I wrote, the angrier I became.  Actually, I started out feeling sympathetic toward Coach Paterno.  Before I finished, I had no feeling of sympathy for anyone but the children who were abused, who had their lives shattered by someone they trusted and then watched as the abuser’s actions were ignored by others that could have/should have stopped him.

We all have different methods of learning.  Most are a combination of watching, doing, and listening.  For me, if I write some sort of an outline of the material I am studying, the material becomes clearer and the ideas contained in the material seem to pop out.  As I started writing my last post, I reread the Grand Jury Report that led to the arrests of the first three men, hopefully the first three of many to come, involved in this nightmare of unbelievable proportions.

As I said, I started with a sympathetic attitude toward Coach Paterno.  At sometime in my life, if I can remember back far enough, high school and college sports, especially football, held a prominent place on my list of “most important things in life.”  Coach Paterno was always an important man.  He became an assistant coach at Penn State in 1950; I was six years old.  When I was in high school, he was the heir apparent to the head-coaching job there and did, indeed, become head coach a few years after I left high school.  He was the head-coach at Penn State during the time I was a young adult, throughout my entire career, and seven years after my retirement, until scandal brought his career to an end.  In my eyes, throughout my entire life, he has been a giant.

I grew up in a steel, now rust, town that was part of the historic football fanatic area that includes Canton, Massillon, Akron, and Youngstown in Northeastern Ohio and Aliquippa, And the towns in and around Beaver County Pennsylvania.  It was not at all unusual to see college recruiters at the first practice session of the year and every practice and game for the entire year.  As an assistant coach at Penn State, Coach Paterno would personally visit schools, usually to see a certain player but at times just to see what might be coming down the pike.

So Joe Paterno has been a part of my world for most of my life.  To realize that the giant, a man who preached ethical behavior, a hero in your eyes has turned out to be less than perfect, his moral actions, in critical situations, less than what you would have expected from him has been as traumatic as learning that there really was no Santa Claus.  As I watched Coach Paterno fall, it was through the eyes of a young man learning that sometimes, men’s actions are not as honorable, moral, ethical as his words.

So, I must say goodbye to the Joe Paterno that I have, respected and in that way that young men feel about their role models, loved for a lifetime.  I must have had him mixed up with someone else.  The stench of this scandal even seems to sully the memories of those Friday nights and Saturday afternoons when we believed that some men were special, were heroes, were men we could trust, but in the end they turned out to be just…men.

I pray that the young men who had their lives shattered as little boys will be able to find the help that will allow them to build a normal life and to know for sure that what happened to them was not their fault.  I cannot even imagine their pain.  I hope that now their pain can be eased and the perpetrators of this injustice can feel their own pain.

More about Penn State some other day.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Penn State Mess

Like most of America, I was shocked when the news broke that one of Penn State’s former Assistant Football Coach’s, a former player, founder of an organization that was established to help “at risk kids”, and one time heir apparent to the Head Coaching job held by his friend Joe Paterno, the winingest coach in college football, had been arrested, along with the Athletic Director and a Vice President of the university, on charges relating to the abuse of preteen and teenage boys.  That was a long sentence; I wanted to take your breath away.  The sentence could be a whole page long and not say everything that the opening sentence in this article should say.

It’s been less than forty-eight hours since I saw the first news blurb about this scandal.  In that short time span, two high level officials have been arrested; the head football coach and the university president have been fired.  The institution is under state and federal investigation and the reputation of the university forever sullied.  To the credit of the Board of Trustees of the university, they wasted no time taking bold, decisive actions in removing people who could have and should have stopped the abuse but chose to ignore it for over ten years.

I read the report of the Grand Jury that investigated the allegations and was as shocked and angered as I have been in my life.

According to the report, on a Friday night, a twenty-eight year old Graduate Assistant, who was a former Penn State football player, and now serves as an assistant coach of the team saw an adult man, who he recognized as an assistant coach, performing anal sex on a boy that appeared to be about ten years old.  Instead of stopping the activity and calling the police, he “left immediately, distraught.”  He then called his father who told him to leave the building and come home.  He and his father decided that he, the graduate assistant, had to promptly report what he had seen to Coach Joe Paterno.  So promptly the next morning, Saturday morning, he telephoned Paterno at home and reported what he had seen.
The next day, Sunday, Paterno called the Athletic Director to his home to inform him that a graduate assistant had seen an assistant coach “doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy.”

One and one half weeks later, the Athletic Director and his superior, the Vice President for some stuff, called the graduate assistant to a meeting.  He, the graduate assistant, retold his story.  The two officials told him they would look into it and determine what further action they would take.

The story goes on and on, but I am going to stop here for my commentary on this small part.

Why would a twenty-eight year old man see an adult having anal sex with a ten-year-old child walk away and call his daddy?  That is the first person I would have arrested, for abetting the adult child abuser in his heinous crime.  He had both a moral and legal responsibility to step in and put an end to that crime against a child.  As of this writing, he is still employed as an assistant coach with the Penn State football team.  I don’t know about you but I will stand and cheer the day they drag him away in chains to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

I have to wonder why, on Saturday, when Paterno was notified; he did not immediately call the police, as is his legal and moral responsibility.  He was right to contact his superior but should have done that after he called the police and had them going to arrest the eye witness who had done nothing to stop the activity the night before.  Now, in my eyes, Paterno had become an accessory to the crime of child abuse.  I have always liked and respected Joe Paterno, both as a coach and a man but he has lost the right to those feelings.  He and the graduate assistant should have to pay dearly for letting a sexual predator continue to damage children for nine more years.

Moving up the ladder, the Athletic Director and Vice President, who have been arrested for lying to the Grand Jury, should also be prosecuted for putting more children in danger by refusing to turn their buddy, the child abuser, to walk free.
The next step shocked me more than any of the rest of the people involved, except for the scumbag child abuser himself, the President of the University failed to take action when he was notified of the situation.

Each of the men, except the eyewitness who allowed the child abuse to continue unabated, involved claim they misunderstood the information or followed the university procedure.


Not once did any of these men, and I use the term loosely, put the safety and well being of the children that had been abused or would, because of their inaction, be abused by the monster they all loved.

One last rant, in 1998 the child abuser had been investigated by the Campus Police after allegations, which he admitted to, of inappropriate actions with children were reported.  The monster could have been stopped that early but the County District Attorney decided that there would be no criminal charges and the police were told to close the case.

I will be writing more about this in the days, weeks, and months to come.  For now, let be just say that these so called men make me puke.  Perhaps the person who should shoulder the most guilt for this affair is the twenty-eight year old man that saw a child being abused and just walked away.  Sickening, they are all trash!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

People in The United States Illegally

Is it right that American taxpayers should pay for the care and upbringing of the children of people who are in this country illegally?  Should the children of these criminal families receive aid from American taxpayers to go to college, depriving children of legal American families of both the financial aid and the seat at a university or college that has been taken by the children of people in this country illegally, many of whom were not even born in America, thus not able to claim citizenship regardless of the parents status?

There are many questions that need to be asked and answered about the people that have crossed the boarders into the United States illegally.  Do we, the taxpayers, have a responsibility to provide free healthcare, rent assistance, free food, ease in the ability to obtain drivers licenses state identification cards and to obtain employment at a time when American citizens cannot find jobs?

Recently, as a good will gesture, two American hikers were released, along with a third hiker released earlier, by Iran after being convicted of being in Iran illegally.  Their sentence was eight years in an Iranian prison.  Last year two young American ladies, working as National Geographic Magazine reporters were held in North Korea for illegally crossing into their country.  They were released after former President Bill Clinton went to North Korea and allowed photographs to be taken of him alongside the North Korean leader.

Many people illegally enter our country and take advantage, or make a mockery, of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  By nature of that amendment, anyone born within the boarders of the United States is considered a citizen of the United States.  That part of our constitution served us very well for two centuries.  There was always some degree of abuse of the citizenship provision but it was not until after the Great Society laws and provisions granted housing, food, healthcare, education, and other benefits to anyone who showed up and asked for them.  After legal residents began to make noise about the cost of benefits being extended to people in the country illegally, those who were here for a free ride realized that if they gave birth to a child within the U. S. boarders, that child would be a citizen and that would likely guarantee that the authorities would not be so callous as to send the parents back to their home country and allow the child to stay.  Thus, the concept of the “anchor baby” was born.

I have always been satisfied that the U. S. Constitution has served us well and that, with the possible exception, the amendments to the Constitution have been reasonable and necessary.

I think that over the last two and a half centuries, the congress has been very careful in making changes to the constitution through the amendment process.  I think that, perhaps, the Equal Rights Amendment may be an example of one that should have passed and did not.  The people in most of the several states that constitute the United States did not think it was necessary.  There are other proposed amendments that, in my analysis, should never have been proposed.  A couple of examples would be The Federal Marriage Act and The School Prayer Amendment, neither of which served all the citizens of the United States.  One would exclude large segments of the population from the “Pursuit of Happiness” provisions of the constitution while the other would disregard the religious beliefs of large segments of the population.

There is one amendment, which has been proposed but not passed by congress, which I think would serve the citizens of the United States well.  In 2009, an amendment that would deny citizenship to anyone born in the United States unless at least one parent was a citizen or permanent resident of the U S or was serving in the U S Military.

This amendment would remove the tremendous burden placed on American Citizens through higher taxes, increased cost of health care, and employment to persons in the U S illegally willing to work for very low wages.  I would cheer to see this amendment passed, I am sure it would dramatically, the flow of illegal aliens in the U S and eliminate the “anchor baby, concept.

I would like to see laws passed along with this amendment that would place very heavy penalties on employers who knowingly employ people in this country illegally and place harsh penalties on companies that move their corporate offices to a drop box offshore in order to avoid paying taxes and American companies that move jobs overseas to take advantage of cheap labor and the absence of worker and environmental safety laws.

This is just some of my thoughts for this morning.  What do you think about these issues?

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Grandma and Grandpa actually lived in a little town named Sebring, Ohio which is right next to Alliance, Ohio and is “out in the country” compared to Alliance’s more urban setting. When I stayed with them I used to wander all over the area. Sometimes I would follow the railroad tracks for a mile or two and other times I would just meander from one little homestead to the next, just talking to people and generally making a nuisance of myself. Back in those wonderful days of the 1950s, no one really minded if some kid stopped by and visited even if they were actually trying to get some chore or the other completed. When they got tired of the “kid”, they would just tell me to run along and I would wander to the next place where I saw some adult doing something and would stop visit him or her. In all my travels I probably never ventured more than a mile or two from my grandparent’s home.
One thing I noticed during my sojourns was that all the driveways and private lanes were covered with some white stuff rather than gravel or blacktop. It was even the toping for paths and sidewalks. The more I explored the more of this strange stuff I would find. It was everywhere. I decided to ask grandpa, who knew everything, what this strange stuff was and why it was everywhere one looked.
I was never sure what grandpa actually did for a job because he did not work all the time. I later found out that he only worked part time because of some health problems but was considered a full time employee and got paid all the time just as if he was at work. It was decades later that I found out why a company would make a deal like that with an employee.
One evening I asked grandpa about the white stuff I had discovered everywhere. I was right, he had the answer. The place where grandpa worked was the American Limoges China Company. The company made fine china and ceramics. Grandpa was the mold superintendent. He worked with the designers, and even did some of the ceramic designs himself, and once the design was complete he would make the master and the master mold. The production quantity was set prior to the production actually starting and when that quantity was met, the molds, master and working molds, would be destroyed so no more of that item could be produced. I also found out that a new master mold could not be made that would be the same as the original. In some cases as few as fifty pieces of a certain design would be produced. My grandpa actually designed a series of wild animal ceramic pieces and after almost a year’s work, only five hundred of each piece was to be produced. The reason for limited production of most items was to make them more valuable.
As the molds and any flawed production pieces were destroyed, they were put into large bins and anyone could take as much as they wanted. It turns out that the material that was disposed of by the company made great cover for dirt driveways and lanes. It also worked well on paths and, when tamped down, also made great sidewalks. So the mystery was solved and I knew why everyone had this strange stuff all over the place.
Grandpa went on to tell me that the company got the idea from God. He told me that God always has production runs of only one, then the mold is destroyed so that there can be only one of each of us. I think that sometimes grandpa was glad that God made only one of me. He and my grandmother on my father’s side always said I had more questions than a hundred boys combined. In that respect, if you ask my wife, I guess I have not changed. I have spent my entire life questioning everything. Sometimes when I can’t find the answer to a question anywhere else, I go to the ultimate source, God. Sometimes I can almost hear him asking “don’t you ever stop”, just like my grandparents, parents, and wives. I always remind God that it was him that made me the way I am and that I know he loves my questions, no matter how many there are.

Peace and Love


I have told you how grandpa taught me that life was like a coin, you have to take both sides. For a little boy that was a pretty profound concept to absorb but as I grew older, I remembered that lesson and understood its simple truth.
Another time I asked grandpa why bad men like gangsters got rich and had such good lives, fast cars, big, fancy cars, expensive clothes, while many good people were poor and some did not know where their next meal would come from.
At this point I should stop to tell you that my grandparents, parents and most of my aunts and uncles grew up or were adults, many trying to raise families, during the “great depression.” Many of the terms I use originated from that period of time. Even thought I had not arrived in time for that event, I heard some reference to it nearly every day of my life. Those who lived through that time were permanently scarred and traumatized and wanted my generation to understand how bad things were and to teach us to appreciate what we had. The terms they used to describe that time have stuck with me all these years and I have even paid attention to some of the lessons they taught.
Grandpa surprised me when he got up and went to his bedroom and retrieved his Bible from his night stand. I had never thought of my grandpa as being a devout or a non-devout man. We had never discussed the Bible except in passing. I only saw my grandpa as the smartest man that ever lived. I never questioned anything about the source of his wisdom. I was just a little boy who loved, and was loved by, his grandpa.
Grandpa and I sat on the big sofa in the living room, a room usually reserved for visiting with company. He introduced me to the book of Ecclesiastes and read the whole short book to me. I have to tell you, it made no sense to me a eight years old but grandpa made me promise to read that book of the Bible at least once every six months for the rest of my life, a promise I have tried to keep but fall short at times. Over the years it began to make more and more sense and I came to understand that it explained all there is to know about the meaning of life and that what we have, or do not have, is not the measure of our success in life. Another time he introduced me to the book of Job. I have thanked God many times that he did not read the whole book to me in one setting. Over the years he would question me about some part of Job’s life. I felt so very special when I could explain my understanding of what he asked about and he would hug me. Sometimes, when reading Job, I can still feel his arms around me.
Once, I asked grandma about Grandpa’s Bible reading. I told her that I had never seen him reading anything but the newspaper. She told me that he kept his Bible on his night stand and every night would spend an hour before he went to sleep, lying on the bed reading from it and meditating about its lessons. I began to do the same thing and even thought I do not read the Bible every night, I do spend about an hour each night, just before saying my prayers, reading. It is a habit that has been with me for over fifty-five years. I always figured if grandpa did it, it must be the right thing to do. I still feel the same way. And now my lovely wife knows the secret of why I lay in bed and read each night.
Grandpa never did answer my original question, but he taught me how to find the answer for myself. Some nights I think I can feel him there, reading with me and I hate to stop and turn off the light.

See you next time
Peace and Love to you all


When I was in the second grade, a neighbor man from across the street was killed in an automobile accident. The intoxicated driver of the other car was uninjured. The man that was killed was a really nice man. He always had time for the neighborhood kids, and there was a lot of them, and would regale us with stories of his experience in World War II. He was lucky he was let out of the Army shortly after the end of the war and before Korea heated up. Many of the men in our neighborhood had not been so lucky.
At eight years old, one’s understands of words and concepts quite differently than an adult. At eight we kind of knew that when someone died, it meant that we would not see them or talk to them again and that we were sad. I don’t think we really understood death. Drunken driving was a concept that we had no real grasp of, but we knew it was bad and anyone that did it was bad. Someone did it and that’s why our neighbor, Dutch, was dead.
One day I told my grandpa about Dutch being killed by a bad man, a drunken driver. He shocked me by asking me how I knew he was a bad man. I replied, “Because he was a drunken driver and he killed Dutch.” Grandpa asked me if I had considered the possibility that he was a good man that had made a mistake. Of course I had not. At eight years old there are not a lot of shades of gray, just black and white. Grandpa also asked if I had considered that Dutch was a bad man that did good things. At that point I was totally lost. My mind had not yet developed to the point that I could comprehend such contradictory concepts.
Grandpa pulled out a silver dollar and told me which side was heads and which was tails. He handed it to me and asked me to give him just the heads. I looked at the coin and then at him and must have had the look of a deer caught in the headlights because I had no idea what he was talking about. There was no way I could give him just the heads. I tried to give him the whole coin with heads facing up. He said he did not want the whole thing, just the heads. I was so lost I may as well have been on Mars. He saw that and gave me a break and said “OK, just give me the tails.” This too was impossible and I finally told him there was no way to split the coin the way he wanted. He just said “yup.”
Then he explained to me that most all people are like coins, they have a head side and a tail side, a good and a bad side. You cannot split them apart. Sometimes a good man will do bad things and sometimes a bad man will do good things. He explained we find the same thing in all of life and nature. For example, sometimes the rain is good, it waters our garden and makes the grass grow nice and green, but sometimes it is bad, it causes floods and people lose their homes and even die. He told me to always look at things, especially people, as I would a coin, two completely different sides, but still just one coin.
It may have been many years before I completely understood his lesson, but eventually I really got it and today I never look at people, or nature, as only one side of a coin. At this time in my family’s lives, we have had a tendency to look at only the bad side of the coin, we have lost two of the people we love most in this world and we are sad. But when we turn the coin over we see, and share, the joy of seeing two other people we love beginning a life together. We get to see that in all things, there is a coin to turn over and over in our hands and to understand that in life we always get the whole coin. All I can say to that is “Ain’t God Grand.”
See ya’all next time, till then Peace and Love to all


Last time I ended with grandpa telling me that “you can’t unsay a cruel remark.” I have heard the same adage as “you cannot un-ring a bell” and “you cannot put toothpaste back in the tube.” Grandpa made that saying come alive for me one day when we were just sitting and talking, two men engaged in man-talk, one man seven and the other seventy. During the course of our conversation I mentioned that my mom was sometimes very mean to me. When he pressed me for details, I told him how she wouldn’t let me do many of the things I wanted to do and that she was so strict about bedtime and other kids were allowed to stay outdoors later, I could even hear them outside playing while I was already in bed.
Gramps asked me what I would do when mom was so mean to me. I confessed that I sometimes told her that I thought she was mean and even once told her that I wished I had different parents. Grandpa listened to me until I was done then took out his bag of Redman and shoved some into his mouth, leaned back in his chair and just sat quietly for a few minutes. I figured he was trying to figure out how to get my mother straightened out, I was wrong! He finally spit, hit the cuspidor perfectly, sat his chair up straight, looked me in the eye and began speaking in the steady, authoritative voice that I had become so accustomed to and respected so deeply. To me, when grandpa spoke, it seemed like the voice of God himself speaking.
He began “boy, do you love your mother?” I told him that of course I loved her, she is my mom. He said he was not sure I was telling the truth and I was near tears because grandpa had never accused me of lying. It was like he stabbed me right in my heart. I was totally confused when he continued.
Your mother loves you and she does her best to protect you and to teach you good habits and then you tell her that you wish she was not your mother. “You are about the meanest kid I have ever known. You ripped your mother’s heart right out of her chest and threw it in the garbage heap.” He told me that every mean thing that I ever say to my mother will form a chain around my neck that I will carry for my whole life and when the chain gets to heavy it will break my back and I would never have happiness in anything in this life.
“Someday, boy, your mother is going to die and you will have to look at her in her casket and know that the pain caused by the chain you are carrying is nothing compared to the pain you placed on her heart. You have a lot of thinking to do and right now I am not sure we can be friends anymore. You think about it tonight and we will talk tomorrow and see if you can find a way to forgive your mother for her love of you and find a way to empty your heart of this meanness you have hidden there, then we will see about you and me.” With that he stood and walked away leaving me sitting there feeling like my whole world had just ended. I had hurt my mother and I had lost my grandpa. I was truly a lost little boy with some real grown up problems on my mind.
I did not sleep much that night and tried to think what life would be like if my mother was dead. I cried a lot that night then I prayed a lot. In the morning I asked grandpa if I could talk to him and he asked me what I wanted like I was a total stranger. I told him that I was sorry for bring mean to my mother and that I did not want anyone else for a mother and that I never wanted her to die. By that time I was sobbing because I loved my mother and was so ashamed that I had said things to hurt her. I told him that if she was here I would hug her and never let her go.
When I finished, he took me in his arms and held me like I was a big fish that might slip away. He said”sonny boy, every word you ever utter lives forever but there are words that can cancel out the bad words so that they can become meaningless, the best ones are I’m sorry. Do you want to call your mom and try it out?” Of course I wanted to and did. Looking back, I doubt my mom had any clue what that phone call was all about, but I am sure that she was moved by it and loved it.
When grandpa called me “sonny boy” rather than “boy” I knew that things were ok between us. As things worked out, I was not there to see my mother in the casket but I can tell you that there were no more links added to that chain grandpa talked about, at least not for being mean to my mother. Today I still wonder how grandpa gained so much wisdom. I will never know that but I am glad he did and that he shared some of it with me while we were sitting around the old coal stove.
Till next time, Love and Peace to you all


When I was a child, I spent a lot of time with my grandma and grandpa at their home out in the country near Sebring, Ohio. They lived on a small farm. They grew their own fruits and vegetables, at least the ones that grew in that part of the country. Their little farm was about five acres and was bounded in the front by a highway and railroad tracks at the rear. The time was the early to late fifties and railroads were the main method of moving goods around the country and the rails at grandma and grandpa’s house was a main line so there were trains back and forth all day and all night long. There was no inside plumbing so we had to bring water from the pump and hike to the outhouse for our other business. It was everything a little boy could dream of.
My fondest memories of my time staying with grandma and grandpa came from the time around the old coal stove. In the dining room, toward one side and centered stood an old, new then, pot-belly coal stove. After dinner everyone would pull their chairs around the stove and just talk. I got a large part of my education in that dining room, especially about life, people and moral conduct.
I will try each month to share with you some of the tidbits of knowledge that was passed on to me as they had been passed from generation to generation for many years. Some may not be original but were original to me, so forgive me if you have heard some of them before.
This month I will just toss out a little sample and will add stories and more bits of wisdom in coming months. I hope you will enjoy!
You can't unsay a cruel remark. Grandpa said this was one of the most important lessons I would ever learn. Of course it was many years before I fully understood the full meaning of this simple statement.
If your nose itches, someone's coming. I thought this was some kind of universal law and was probably in the sixth grade before I realized that there was nothing wrong with my nose itches. I just couldn’t figure out why no one showed up every time I had an itchy nose. I used to run to the window and watch to see who was coming and most of the time left the window sill disappointed.
Peace and Love to each of you.

My First Day of School

Every year, when I see the kids heading back to school, my mind slips back to my very first day of school.

It’s hard to believe that my first day of school was nearly sixty years ago and yet it is still so clear in my mind. Where I grew up and at the time I grew up we did not have kindergarten for everyone. The kindergartens were private and rather expensive so most kids from the middle class families did not attend. That is not to say that we were behind the kids that did attend. Our parents taught us everything important that was being taught in the kindergartens. Because of the way our neighborhoods were set up, it was easy for a dozen mothers and all their kids to have school for a couple hours a day. Those were very smart ladies. One thing they did was have school for about an hour and a half, then break for lunch and return for an hour. That way we learned about the fact that there were two Halves to each day and we had to return after lunch just as ready as we had been in the morning. So all in all when the first day of the first grade came along we were as ready as any six year old could be.
My siblings consisted of two older sisters and everyone knows what a pain little brothers are to older sisters. To say I was unfettered when I was a child might be an understatement. I was always a child full of curiosity and sometimes lacked self discipline when on a quest for answers. My sisters were both little angels when it came to school, a fact I would hear over and over from teachers who had had one or both of them in her classroom. My sisters would tell me stories about what happened to kids like me that had a short attention span or just misbehaved. They told me all about the paddles the teachers had and how they just watched and waited for someone to step out of line so they could bend them over a chair and set their butts on fire. To say the least, I had a great deal of apprehension about going to real school.
On the first day of the first grade a parent, mothers of course, had to escort us to school and take us to our room and meet our teacher and to introduce the devils and angels that would make up that very first class. I did not fit into the angel classification but I was not quite a devil either. All of us brand new students and our mothers were assembled in one corner of a large entry hall. Other kids from the upper classes, second through sixth, were gathered in the entry also but not in our corner. When the bell rang and all of those kids took off for their rooms I and a few other kids took off also, having no idea of where we were going. Our mothers caught us and were not very happy with us. So the day got off to a bad start right away. But things went well after that and we were assigned to our classroom and our parents had an opportunity to tell the teacher what brats we all were.
In those days, the first three grades were bussed back and forth for lunch. I got off the bus and ran the block to my house and ran inside and proclaimed with great pride “I went to school for a whole half of a day and have not got one paddling.” It was one of the proudest moments of my young life.
As time went by, I figured out that my sisters had been less than honest with me. I never did find a way to get even and today I have to admit that they had gotten me and that it was funny. It took a long time to figure out why my mom had such a strange look on her face that day, I guess they got her too!