Tuesday, December 31, 2013

NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS?... NO!

Readers of my newspaper column always ask me at this time of year what my New Year's resolutions will be. And I always admit that I have never made them.

Why not? I'm not really sure. Perhaps I haven't wanted to disappoint myself if I haven't kept them.

Or perhaps I simply never made the ceremonial "big deal" about the change from one year to another. After all, I sometimes joke, that change only means I have to remember to write a new date on my check, and that's something I don't adapt to overnight. Sometimes, in fact, the next year has already come along at about the same time I've finally begun to write the correct date; and then it's not correct anymore!

And what about New Year's Eve? That never meant a lot to me either. I think such habits begin early, and since I never had a date on New Year's Eve, it never emerged as an important thing on my calendar.

As a teen, instead of a date, I would be looking forward to the baby-sitting money I could bring home on New Year's Eve---double the usual hourly rate; and sometimes more! And because my customers stayed out later on that night, the dollars really added up.

Was I a greedy girl? No. I was simply a girl who was one of the older children of a very large family, and my father had died when I was just 14. Helping to bring money into the household was important, and so was school. That required balance.

I enjoyed life; I enjoyed high school; I loved my classmates and still do. But my worries were different from the concerns of a lot of young girls of that time.

Go ahead---share with me your New Year's Eve adventures and misadventures, and share with me the New Year's resolutions you will make and break. I enjoy hearing about them.

But, as always, the old year will end and the new one will begin without any real help from me. I will be sleeping soundly when the change occurs.

However, I do wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy 2014. And I sincerely mean that.


Good wishes from Rose About Town, who is happy to receive your comments at
randrmoore@gmail.com.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

THE STORY OF MARGE HURLBURT AND THE WOMEN OF WASP


 

MEDAL FOR MARGE FINDS HOME AT  IWASM...
 By Rose Moore, news columnist, blogger, IWASM life member

(Blogger's note: This week I have learned that the history of WASP will be honored in the Rose Bowl parade. Watch for the float! If you are among those who still don't know much about the WASP and their important role in World War II, the following article should be of help).

     A very special gold medal arrived in February 2011 at the International Women's Air & Space Museum (IWASM) at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, and the museum treasures that acquisition. It holds great meaning for the museum and the history of women in aviation. It holds great meaning as well in our own Lake County, Ohio, paying honor as it does to the late Margaret "Marge" Hurlburt of Painesville.
     "Marge's Medal" is what many of us have taken to calling that wonderfully minted piece of gold, which was donated to the museum by the Hurlburt family. When the Congressional Medal of Honor was approved by Congress in 2009, in tribute to the group of World War II women known as WASP (Women's Airforce Service Pilots), a tiny copy of the master medal was presented to each of these women who, for many years, had remained unheralded, unrecognized and unthanked.
     At the time of the approval, only a few hundred of the thousand-plus WASP women were still living, and so the majority of WASP women, like Hurlburt, received the award post mortem. Many of the still-living WASP women attended the White House ceremony in March 2010 to personally receive their medals.
     WASP WAS FOUNDED in the early days of World War II by famed aviatrix Jackie Cochran, working with General Hap Arnold, Chief of Army Air Forces, to fill an urgent wartime need. In fact, WASP itself was actually Cochran's own brain child, and she was successful in selling that idea to the general.
     As military planes were rolling off American assembly lines in great numbers, there seemed to be no way to ferry them to military bases; most male pilots were already at war. Cochran saw the country's female pilots as the answer to the problem, and soon the women of WASP were valiantly serving our military---performing such duties as ferrying aircraft, testing airplanes, instructing male pilots and towing practice targets.
     They came from all walks of life; minimum age of 18, with private pilot licenses and at least 200 hours of flying time. What they had in common was a passion for flying and a deep sense of patriotism.
      They underwent a rigorous military training program; and they served their country well.  They provided their own uniforms, and when at least 38 of these women were killed in the line of duty, they were buried at the expense of family and friends. There was no flag and no military ceremony to commemorate their sacrifice and service. A fellow WASP would be the only presence to accompany the casket home and deliver the news to the family, and the expense of transport would be covered by a collection taken among the WASP women themselves.
     When the war was over and the women were seen as no longer needed, WASP was deactivated and their records were classified and sealed. They simply went home, at their own expense.There would be no Veterans' Benefits; no GI bill for schooling; no low-interest housing loans... History in fact would ignore them. Their flying records were as good as any male military pilot, and they racked up more than 60 million air miles ferrying bombers and fighters and other military aircraft, but they were treated as if they had never existed.
      Nonetheless, any of us who had ever met or been a friend of one of these women came to realize they were proud of their service and thankful for the opportunity to serve. Not until 1977 would Congress finally declare them as veterans, and not until 1979 would official acceptance of that status come from Air Force officials.
    AS FOR OUR MARGE HURLBURT herself, her roots were deep in Lake County. She was born and raised in Painesville, graduated from Harvey High School and became a teacher at the old Champion Junior High and for a time at Lake Erie College. She also had important history with Willoughby, Ohio, learning to fly and earning her private pilot license out of the old Willoughby Air Field off Euclid Avenue.
    She was recruited into WASP by Jackie Cochran in 1942. After basic training, the same Jackie Cochran would personally present Hurlburt with her WASP wings, at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, TX. After a nine-week course in flying B-26s at Dodge City, KS, Hurlburt became a spokesperson for a WASP group sent to Peterson Field in Colorado, where she towed targets for B-24 gunners. Next she went to Great Bend Army Air Base in Kansas, towing targets and checking out B-17s for Navy radar training. To this point as a WASP, she had logged 300 hours.
      After WASP was deactivated, she talked four of her former WASP colleagues into joining her in Ohio to obtain their flight instructor ratings. Years later, at the age of 89, the now-deceased Herb Tanner of Tanner Flying Service at Willoughby would tell me about the day Hurlburt and her friends first arrived at his airport.
     "I saw a cloud of dust moving down the road, and from it emerged a convertible full of pretty young women," he recalled. "I had posted a sign for instructors, and these five women were there to apply. I jumped at the chance and hired them all... They were bright, and Marge was the brightest. She could fly anything from B-17s to the little single-seaters at our field... I signed her on to teach ground school and meteorology too!"
     By 1946, Hurlburt was the only one of the women still on staff, Tanner said, noting that two male pilots (Dick Cook and Gil Cargill) had begun to teach her aerobatics in the AT-6. When she signed up to compete in the Women's Halle Trophy Race at Cleveland Air Races, Tanner paid the $75 fee; Thermatic Co. of Willoughby agreed to pay for the gas; and Cook and Cargill spent weeks waxing and polishing the AT-6, and teaching Hurlburt the fine points of pylon racing.
     Their faith in her was rewarded by her victory. In a New York designer flight suit, her curly hair still tousled from the race, she accepted the trophy and $2,500 cash from Sam Halle of Halle Brothers and was grandly feted in a downtown celebration.
     Later that same year she was part of a ferry flight of 100 women delivering new Piper aircraft from Lock Haven, PA, and was also named to the Board of Directors of the Professional Race Pilots Association, to represent the interests of female pilots.
     In 1947, she wrested the women's flight-speed record from her friend and former boss, Jackie Cochran, who had held the 292.27 mph record since 1937. Hurlburt's friend, aviator and air racer Cook Cleland of Willoughby, provided his FG-1 Corsair for the race. Hurlburt was sponsored by Painesville businessmen Miles Whaley, Thane Durey, Bob Mallett, Ralph Miller, Don Landphair and Bill Wyman. In gratitude, the plane was painted with the name "City of Painesville" in their honor, and it was displayed in the town square.
     Hurlburt's top speed of 352.194 earned her the international women's flight-speed record. The media proclaimed her as America's Queen of the Air; Jimmy Dudley dubbed her America's Fastest Woman Flyer; and Chance Voight, builder of the Corsair, declared her performance to be "slightly on the miraculous side."
    HURLBURT'S BARNSTORMING career after the war was born of her desire to finance a midget-racing promotion and go for the gold at the $25,000 Goodyear Trophy Race at Cleveland. To come up with money to build the racer, she signed on with the "Flying Tigers" aerial circus.
     On July 4, 1947 at Decorah, Iowa, she began her performance in a borrowed AT-6; her own had been damaged by a student pilot earlier in the week. In the middle of what appeared to be a slow roll, the plane dived and crashed, and she died instantly. Her death was listed nationwide, even among the "Milestones" in the July 14 Time Magazine.
     Her funeral service was held July 7 at Spear Funeral home in Painesville, and she was buried in Section B, Row 10, Stone 8 at Painesville's historic Evergreen Cemetery.     
     I have visited her grave, and I have smiled to see an airplane etched onto her rose-colored tombstone. I was pleased to see that, long before public acknowledgement was ever given to the women of WASP, Marge Hurlburt's monument carried the W.A.S.P. initials, engraved in large letters.
     I have also visited her artifacts, carefully preserved in the research library at IWASM. Her collection in the archives includes such things as her scrapbooks and news clippings, her Corsair model plane, leather flying helmet, log book, U.S. and international pilot licenses;... and the small childhood hand-puppet that had been her talisman on every flight, including her last.
     As a writer and a woman who encountered some disapproval when I began my own flying lessons in the mid-1960s (long after Marge Hurlburt's more significant history), I was especially moved to read the articles she had written and submitted to national magazines. Her writings about the joy of flying would have been great inspiration for other young women, but they never saw the light of day.
     Notations with these articles bore proof of editors' rejections from such magazines as Life and Look and Ladies Home Journal. The reasons for rejection? The editors wrote that they enjoyed the articles and recognized Hurlburt's writing skills and worthiness for publication. But they were convinced their family-style readers were "not yet ready to accept the writings of a woman pilot."
    Now "Marge's Medal" lies in the International Women's Air & Space Museum, and the master-minted WASP Congressional Medal of Honor can be seen in the Smithsonian. Both provide final certification of the W.A.S.P. initials etched upon the Hurlburt monument.
     It's unfortunate that Margaret Hurlburt did not receive the proper recognition in her lifetime, but her family and community took great pride in her and strongly supported her efforts. And upon her early death, they saw to it that the proper recognition was etched onto her monument.
   


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

SPEAKING IN DEFENSE OF BIG BLACK DOGS...

   Today a social-media posting discussed a certain "prejudice" against big black dogs, particularly when it comes to adoption of such animals.
   Some time ago I discussed that issue with a volunteer at our county animal shelter. Every week she photographs a number of dogs who need homes, and these photos, along with her notes about each animal, are published in a local paper.
   One week she focused exclusively on "big black dogs." Apparently those pooches  have had more trouble finding homes than the other dogs. Some shelters even call it "the big black dog syndrome."
   It's a fact; large breeds are not as fashionable these days. Animal officials speculate it might be partly because large dogs sometimes seem frightening to people. But even smaller dogs of chocolate or black coloration don't seem to adopt as easily.
   Personally, I love big dogs, and the color doesn't really matter to me; I have owned or been a friend to many big black dogs. One I remember particularly well was an oversized labrador who happily grew up with a neighbor's family from the time the children were small. He was a gentle, ever-present playmate and guardian for those kids, and the entire family grieved when he died at 17, even though the children were grown by that time.
   In my own household since the mid 1970s, we've had dobermans. All were large, and with one exception, they were black-and-tan (mostly black). They were easy to train and a great deal more polite than many a smaller dog. Jokingly, we called them "doberpersons," so attuned were they to the human beings in our household.
   When one passed away, we would grieve their presence. Soon we'd adopt another, always making a point of finding one that truly needed a home. They were Baron, Lady, Mike, Jack.. and behind each name are stories and good memories. And now our latest canine companion is Mick.
   People have asked, "Why such a large dog, now that you are older?" I have often answered that question with a light-hearted: "Because, if my back is bothering me, I don't have to lean over to scratch his ears or pat his back!" But these big dogs have been the finest friends you could imagine.
   If you're seeking a dog, please don't give up on the big black dogs until you've brought them out of their cages, looked them over and "talked" to them a bit. At our county shelter, you can even get to know the dogs a little better by RE-visiting). 
   A larger dog might be just the dog for you; it might be love at first  (or second) sight! Nothing against the little guys, but big dogs (even if they're black) have much to offer. Over the years, I have learned that over and over again.
   I encourage you to share with me your stories of "Big Black Dogs (or big dogs or black dogs)We Have Loved," and I'll be happy to share those stories through this blog.
 
(Direct your comments to me at randrmoore@gmail.com).      

Thursday, December 12, 2013

THE GOLDEN YEARS OF CONCORD AIRPARK...



Often when I pass the old Concord Airpark, memories roll along the runway of my mind, transporting me to what so many of us refer to as the Airpark's "golden days." I was but one of the lucky folks who "knew it when."

I learned to fly there in the 1960s, and my husband and I and our then-only-child Mark spent a lot of time there. I met Connie Luhta through that small airport, and she became one of the great friends of my lifetime.
The airfield was alive with the  activity of people, planes and families. The late and great Adolph Luhta was the operator, and every year or two there was an air show there which was as much fun as any of the big professional events; maybe better!

I often ran the airport's ground-to-air radio. I was also a member and treasurer of the airpark's social club, The Skylarks, which planned the airshow, potluck socials, hangar dances and any other activity the group could think of to play host to pilots and their families.
It seems the airport had a great flock of friends among its neighbors too. Many of them, in fact would drop in to say hello and watch the planes, particularly on the summer Sundays when the two resident Stearman biplanes were engaged in "dog-fights" high up in the morning sky.

I have a special memory of a certain winter holiday dance at the Airpark. Though Adolph groused beforehand about having to clear the hangar for the occasion, we all knew that was mostly his usual "gruff bluff." On arriving at the dance, no one was really surprised to see that he had thoughtfully installed an attractive tent-like walkway from the office to the hangar, to keep us out of the cold.

The walkway and hangar were lit up like a Christmas tree, and when we walked into the dance, it was plain to us that Adolph had worked hard to make things hospitable, party-hearty and warm for his guests. He was a great host; he had even taken care to see that the big juke-box was stocked with just the right music for good dancing. And, as I recall, he also made sure he danced with every woman there! A burly man, he was nonetheless light on his feet, and an excellent dance partner.

In summer afternoons, evenings and weekends, the airpark was a magnet for all kinds of people---not just pilots and flight students and instructors, but neighbors and other visitors who drove in or walked in to sit outside on the metal glider or a fence,  watching take-offs and landings and socializing with the airpark's staff and regulars.

In any season, the airpark lounge was always a place where old pilots could sit and share a bit of "hangar flying"---(the aviation  world's version of "fish tales.") There was often an assortment of non-pilots too, and they were mostly there for the fun of listening to the wonderful malarkey.

For the past 20 years, I have lived down the road from the airport, and I pass it quite often. Its caretaker is my friend Connie Luhta, Adolph's widow. Though the airport is mostly quiet these days, Connie occasionally holds a picnic at the old hangar or a gathering at the old lounge (which also serves as home base for an Experimental Aviation Association chapter).
The land is still pretty, especially when draped in the colors of autumn, but the buildings---like many of us old airpark denizens---are showing the effects of the passage of time. That doesn't keep my memories from bringing back to me a vision of the airpark's golden days, and that makes me feel briefly young again.

I think that's called nostalgia.


(If any of you care to share old photos or memories of those days, I will happily receive them at randrmoore@gmail.com)
(Photo 2013 by Rose Moore--"Autumn in the Back Fields, Concord Airpark in northeast Ohio")

COMMENTS:
FROM SUSAN LUHTA PRICE OF ALABAMA: "Oddly enough I have a memory of the Airpark.  Well, actually I have a memory of being high up over the Ohio landscape in a small plane owned by Harvey Luhta.   My Dad, Mama, my brother and I got to take a ride  while we were in Ohio for a few months when I was about 4. It is one of the few memories I have of Ohio, this one and I have a picture in my head of the yard at Harvey and Lois’ house and the entire area as far as my little eyes could see was white.   I guess I have two of the best memories you can have of Ohio, the patchwork quilt I saw flying over it and the beauty of it covered in a blanket of white.

Friday, November 15, 2013

REMEMBERING THE DAY OF A PRESIDENT'S DEATH...

(In November 2013, columnist Rose Moore's memory of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was published in Gazette Newspapers).

     Something happened 50 years ago this month, and most of us who were alive at the time remember it like yesterday. We can tell you in great detail where we were; what we were doing; and what the weather was like when the disastrous news broke on Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, that President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed by a sniper as his motorcade traveled through Dealy Plaza in Dallas, Texas.
     My husband Bob and I and our first-born baby son were living in New York City, where we spent several years when work in Ohio was scarce. The 1964 World's Fair at Flushing Meadows was generating plenty of work in the New York area, and my husband had joined the working New Yorkers.
     We lived in a 21-step walk-up apartment on a wide, tree-lined street of private homes---ironically on Corporal Kennedy Street in Bayside, Long Island, New York in the borough of Queens. Ours was a lovely old apartment, with large rooms, high ceilings, grand woodwork, hardwood floors and generous windows. The night before the assassination, we were transforming a room across from the kitchen into a formal dining room. We installed a wall-size built-in breakfront; and we  sanded and painted and wallpapered; and when we were done, clean-up work was left for the following day.
      In the morning, I wrapped our sleeping son in a blanket to drive my husband to the train station, and off he went to work with a crew finishing the interior of the attractive new Maritime Union building in Manhattan. The autumn day was rising; it was unusually mild and lovely.
      Back at the apartment sometime before lunch, I put our son down for a nap and began the dining-room clean-up, working as always to the beat of 60s radio rock. Sun and soft breezes poured through the windows, and I sang along with the music until the radio switched suddenly to slow, formal dirges, with no explanation and no talk or advertising. What had happened, I wondered; when had I joined a funeral procession?
     Those weren't the days when news arrived in an instant, zooming all over the world. Even for  news people themselves, there was a lag time, so I sat on the floor and waited. The door buzzer jolted me out of my reverie, and my downstairs neighbor hollered up to say breathlessly: "Someone has shot the President; he's dead! I'm going to my husband's office so I won't be alone."
      By now I was hearing the dreadful news in the background, and it was just as blunt; I went back to the dining room, sat down on the floor, and wept. Then on strong impulse, I picked up my son from his crib and drove to the train station to wait for a husband who wouldn't t be due for at least another three hours.
      I parked at the curb, just one in a long parade of housewives waiting too early for husbands. I was amazed to see the train had pulled in and the doors were opening to release a crowd of people moving like zombies. Bob was but one among the shell-shocked masses, carrying lunch pails or briefcases. Their shoulders were slumped and they looked to the ground, moving mechanically...
      With a heavy sigh, Bob sat down in the car and quietly told me, "The super walked in and said, 'Boys, someone killed our President. Put down your tools; don't bother with anything; we are all going home to our families.' We didn't clean anything; didn't secure anything; we just set down our tools, and we left. The subway was quiet; the people in Grand Central Station were quiet; the people on the trains were quiet... "
      From that moment we watched as this "City That Never Slept" sank into a coma of shock and mourning. In those days without Internet, cell phones or 24-7 news, Bob and I did not own a working TV; and until that day, we hadn't missed it enough to do something about it..
      We had the streets of that great metropolis to ourselves for the next few days as we wandered by car, keeping up with the changing news by way of our car radio. We saw Times Square deserted and mostly darkened. We saw the Long Island Expressway, as strangely empty as the runway of a closed airport. In the breezy warmth of Indian Summer, we drove with our car windows open, in a city so quiet we could hear the dry autumn leaves rattling across big-city pavement. Where were all the people? They were inside together with family, seeking comfort.
        We stopped for gas and were served by the owner himself, rather than the usual uniformed attendant. He grieved that, "I need to be here so my people can be with their families today." He refused to charge for fill-up because, he said, "It's a day to be kind to each other."
      The day of the Kennedy funeral, we drove out to a small town on the Island, where we often window-shopped on Friday nights while our laundry was washing at a nearby laundromat. We had made friends with the owner of a small TV shop; he lived above his store and was always willing to talk. His shop wasn't open that day, but apparently he saw the approach of our car, and he stepped out to signal us in. He asked if we'd mind watching the funeral with him, in his showroom.
     Soon came a rap on the door, and a tall, sturdy policeman officer informed us our car was illegally parked and unlocked, and we'd left our lights on. He had turned out the lights and locked up the car, and as he  handed us our keys, he told us there would not be a ticket. His stated reason echoed the spirit of the words of the gas station owner who wouldn't charge us for gasoline: "We're all in need of some kindness right now," he said softly. "Now you be kind to each other."
       On the day the suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was shot to death, we were in a diner out on the Island, and a man pulled off the Expressway and shouted the news. He had been virtually alone on that normally busy expressway, and he wanted to share the news with other human beings.
     Surprisingly, it hit like a ton a bricks. There were no hurrahs or huzzahs; only silence and obvious pain that no one bothered to try to explain.
         It was only more proof, after all, that something deep and intrinsic had changed; and our world would not be the same.


 


Sunday, November 10, 2013

FOR VETERANS DAY: REFLECTION FROM A U.S. VETERAN...

For Veterans Day 2013 I share with you an excerpt from "Brother Ben's Tales from Nam," a personal file containing reflections written to me over the years, from my patriotic brother Ben, of whom I am justly proud:
 


"Why did so many of my brothers-in-arms in Vietnam suffer such mental problems and anguish, when the WWII and Korean Vets (in my view) had it so much worse? A personal epiphany I had a few years ago concerning Vietnam was this: It hit me like a brick wall when a sizable number of the "Iraq War II" men and women began coming home with the same maladies. It is a mental form of the bends! 
 

One day you are in the land of milk and honey...hours later you are in hell on earth for a tour of duty....then suddenly you are back in the land of milk and honey, within hours. 


There is no mental decompression going in or coming out. Also, coming out, most civilians certainly do not care to even be aware of what you have been through. 
 

Worse yet for us Viet Vets was the venom and lies hurled upon us even to this day. Hollywood being among the crueliest of offenders toward us, and toward the American cause at that critical time in the Cold War.


I did not have it terribly bad compared to many. Most days presently, in my mind, my time "in country" never existed. Never was. Except when something jolts me, or when I wake up in a cold sweat and can actually smell Vietnam surrounding me.
 

Contrary to a fairly common belief otherwise, American honor was the rule and the policy (not the exception). Restraint and hesitation were often not repeatable demeanors. Quite a tightrope to walk.


I am so proud of the men and women presently serving our country. What on earth possesses them to so honorably volunteer to give their lives, if need be, to a country where many Americans may care more about which reality show is on TV tonight?" 

 


Ben is my younger brother who has lived in the Pacific Northwest for many years, having mustered out there and married there and raised his family there. I SALUTE HIM AND ALL VETERANS WHO HAVE SERVED OUR COUNTRY WITH SUCH HONOR.




Wednesday, November 6, 2013

CAN WE TALK... OR ARE WE AFRAID TO?...

Political correctness can come between us...
(By Rose Moore, published in her weekly column in Gazette Newspapers Jefferson, Ohio, in March 2012)
     When Robert De Niro recently joked that "America might not be ready for a white first lady," I personally did not believe he meant a bit of harm. He was joking, pure and simple. But in the process he became a member of the latest list of the Politically Incorrect.
     Who isn't familiar with that term---Political Correctness---popularly referred to in modern-day shorthand as "PC?" Who among us thinks I am the only person feeling an increasing dismay at today's over-use of PC?
     More and more, I hear that term come up in casual discussion among different groups in various places. Now I'm beginning to sense a growing agreement that Political Correctness really doesn't help to solve our differences. In fact, it actually divides us!
     Often in PC discussions, I find myself sharing memories of a man my husband and I met almost a decade ago. His name was Guy Darden. He was an African American tailor, short in stature and long in wisdom, and he was marvelous to talk to. We had met with him originally because we had lost some weight and wanted to have our clothes re-tailored for a better fit, and a trusted friend had recommended him.
     Though he was truly the gifted tailor our friend had said he was, we remember him more for the talks we enjoyed together. Words flowed easily between us from the start. Our fittings always took longer because of that; and that, I think, was largely because of Darden's own character.
     We didn't have to be afraid to tackle any subject with him, including racism and misunderstandings and poor communications between people with all sorts of differences. Some of our talk together was serious; some was reflective; and some was peppered with Darden's innate good humor. He knew how to laugh and how to joke.
      ONE DAY WHEN we talked of Political Correctness, he chuckled and said, "A customer once asked me what was the politically correct name for people of my race---Negro, black or African American? I laughed and told him, 'As far as I'm concerned, whatever your origin is, if you want to call me anything, you should call me Guy. Or Mr. Darden if you please.' "
     Darden was a man with words worth listening to. He loved people, and he did not intend to let the modern Political Correctness fears create a barrier. He was outgoing and open and honest, and he told us he had learned a lot in life from talking to people, whatever their race, religion, political views, history, education or age.
     People are always different from each other in one way or another, he said, and he intended to speak to as many people as he could before he died. He expected to learn something from all of them, and to teach them something too.
      "It goes without saying," he said, "that you need to be civilized in your talk and behavior with others. But if you don't let a fear of using 'the wrong words' come between you and your conversations with anyone, you would find it amazing how the barriers can fall away. Too many people are afraid their good intentions will be misinterpreted by the time they reach the listening ears of the people they are trying to talk to. So they don't speak together at all! It's a fear that's been heavily taught to this generation; it builds up animosity where it doesn't need to be. That can be particularly true these days when people of different races come together."
     IN OUR OPINION, Darden was right. Bob and I have often said we didn't know him nearly long enough; and when he died, we regretted losing out on all the future conversations we might have had. A bit of him lives on; I'm sure we're not the only people who have talked with him and shared his words with many people. We saw him as a good and happy influence on anyone who shared his time.
     I remember a particular conversation with friends some time ago, in which we shared our memories of the late Mr. Darden. Bob and I were having coffee with friends, in a public area with groups of people all around us. Our conversation led to Political Correctness, then morphed into the subject of communications between the races. As we talked, I was aware that I had heard a group sit down behind us.
     It seemed to Bob and me that our table mates were suddenly lowering their voices, yet our talk continued. We shared with our friends some questions with which Darden had challenged us, including: "How can we ever share a happy, animated conversation if we have to worry about every single phrase and word that passes between us?... How can people with any sort of difference really get to know each other if they have to constantly follow a pre-set, politically correct pattern?... And where, in the shadow of PC, is there room for humor, which is a universal blender?"
     The truth of those words still rang in our ears as we spoke with our friends that day. The original intention of "Political correctness" may have been to help us diversify, but it truly does seem to have worked in the opposite direction. It has helped to build resentments on both sides. In listening for trouble, we have found it where it hasn't existed; we have seen bad intentions where only good intentions were meant. PC has broken down our communication with each other, rather than fostering it. It has stilted easy conversation and therefore our communications.
     Our gabfest that day ended sooner than we would have liked. Realizing suddenly that we were running late for an appointment, my husband and I rose to leave. We turned and saw the family behind us---they happened to be African American---and Bob and I felt no discomfort at their having heard our conversation.
     As we smiled and nodded greetings to this group, they responded with friendly smiles and thumbs-up signals; and a lovely middle-aged woman among them spoke a soft "Amen to what you said." They had heard our words and accepted them in the spirit in which they had been spoken.
     LONG-TIME READERS of this column may recall that, when Guy Darden passed away, I devoted my column space to a eulogy richly deserved by this good man who understood how much richer life could be if we could talk among ourselves as people, despite our differences... and without a "PC" pattern analyzing every word.
      

Friday, November 1, 2013

RINGING THE BELLS FOR JACK...

Years ago, when we adopted our late dog Jack, he had been taught not to bark. He had been trained as a show dog, a career move we didn't continue. Instead, we chose a brand new job description for this big loveable canine; he was to simply be our friend and companion for the rest of his life.

Until we could teach him to bark again, we temporarily solved the problem of his telling us when he needed to go outside. We put sleigh bells on the door, for him to ring with his nose, and this worked out well.

Within a few months, Jack surprised himself one day by barking; he loved the rolling-thunder sound of his own voice, and from that day forward he practiced it often. Still, he continued his ring-the-bell message when he wanted to go outside.

Jack was also our family's self-appointed greeter; he absolutely loved people, and our friends called him Super Host. When a car pulled into the driveway, he would run to the door and vigorously ring the bells with his nose to let us know we had company.

All these years later, the bells are still there, though Jack has been gone for years. The bells have been there for so long, they have worn a mark on the door; and those bells will probably be there forever.

So... when you enter our home, you will still hear the bells... a bit like the sound when your opened a door to a shop in the old-fashioned days. When you hear those bells, you'll be hearing a bit of the spirit of Jack which seems to remain in this house.

That spirit is welcome; and so are our friends... and we will also probably never remove that mark on the door.


POSTSCRIPT: We buried Jack near a big black walnut tree, near the path into the woods where he and I walked daily. We brought rocks up from the creek as a natural marker, and then we sank a shepherd's crook beside his grave, and from it we attached a large wind chime... large enough to be heard from inside the house in the coldest weather.
And on this November 1, 2013, years afterward as I walk daily with Jack's successor Mick, we still hear those musical bells. Jack's greeting!

Friday, October 25, 2013

A LITTLE BIT OF EVERY KIND OF WEATHER...

     This afternoon my walk with Mick, my big black doberman, is decorated by the sunshine lighting up the whiteness of the schooner clouds. The winds are pushing them across the great blue prairie of the sky, like covered wagons.
     Then the darkness races in from nowhere, and Mick and I are shaded by dark canopies that cover all the blue and dump the rains and icy pellets hard upon us.
     Mick races for the house, like the thoroughbred he is, but I walk at a slower pace, like a lady of the age I am...
      I'm clad against the elements by LL Bean; and Mick, poor Mick, is not so lucky.
 
      (Posted 10-25, 2013 by R.A.T.--Rose About Town. As always, you can register your commentary with her at randrmoore@gmail.com)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

BUCKEYES, BUCKEYES... WE ALL LOVED BUCKEYES!.....


     MY WORDS ON TREES, and especially the most minor mention of the buckeye tree, always seem to hit a happy note with readers of this blog. Who knew so many of you loved that tree?
    Elders have recited their own childhood memories of those trees, particularly the large, shiny chestnut-brown fruit with the light circular "eye" that earned the name "buck eye" from our Native Americans, who thought it looked like the eye of a buck (male) deer.
    Some of you have recalled collecting buckeyes, like the man who admitted, "It was mostly just for the sake of collecting them. I kept them in a large paper grocery bag, only to throw them awayin the next buckeye season, when I'd start collecting them all over again... Pointless? Maybe. Obviously I didn't think so at the time."
     Another reader told me he would use a nail to punch a hole in the eye portion of the nut, to attach an old shoe lace so he could carry the nut in a belt loop for good luck. According to this reader, "The buckeye was supposed to be as good an amulet as the lucky rabbit-foot many people carried around as good luck charms in those days."
    That seemed to dovetail with another reader's memory of his grandfather's belief that a buckeye in your pocket would assure a plentiful supply of pocket money."So I always carried one," the man declared. "And I always did have money in my pocket, though it was probably because I also always had a paper route."
    Some of you mentioned the childhood "buckeye wars." That tells me you remember, as I do, that buckeyes were good fodder for sling shots, and kids then sometimes also threw buckeyes at each other from behind trees and other hiding places. One reader added that she doesn't recall anyone  being injured in this way. "Still," she conjectured, "such a thing as buckeyes or sling shots or pea-shooters today would no doubt get you written up at school on a weapons charge."
     Another woman said her parents and grandparents firmly believed the bitter buckeye nut could relieve arthritis, rheumatism and "lumbago," but she wasn't able to recall just how they took that "medicine." (The leaf and bark are slightly poisonous, but Native Americans did bleach and cook small amounts as food ingredients and for curative potions, and they strung buckeyes on leather string to wear around their necks as protective amulets).
     OUR BUCKEYE CONVERSATIONS have made for fine nostalgia. But a city filled with large old buckeye trees is a streetscape of the past; I suppose that might be partly because the buckeye-litter in the fall made so much work for property owners. These days, if you see buckeye trees, you are probably looking at a smaller hybridized version that isn't quite so messy.
     As they matured, the buckeye trees of our own childhoods were far too big for today's city yards. They could not possibly compare, for instance, to the huge old buckeye on the high property the old Wilcox mansion on the southwest corner of Liberty and High Streets in my hometown. That tree towered over that large structure (which was later demolished to accomodate a nursing facility).
    Just that one big buckeye tree seemed to shade the entire large property, though its leaves let in enough sunlight that, on a breezy day, I found it magical to sit on the lawns and watch the sun-and-shadow patterns moving all around me. (I also found out the hard way that, when the tree shed its fruit, enough fell to the porches and sidewalks and steps that you had to be careful not to step on one and roll into an unexpected fall).
      Amid such sentimental memory on the part of so many of us older people, several younger people said they weren't even sure what a buckeye tree was, or what it would look like if they saw one. I checked with such sources as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio Division of Forestry, to be sure I was remembering the tree correctly.
     I LEARNED the true Ohio Buckey is Aesculus glabra, the main requirement for which is fertile soil. This tree grows 30 to 50 feet tall with a two-to-two-foot-diameter trunk. Its leaves are grouped in clusters of five leaflets, four to six inches in length, attached at a common point to a long stem. Its stout branches are placed in opposite positioning, giving it a lovely, balanced, rounded shape that allows it to look good even in winter without its leaves. The trunk has an interesting, grey, scaly, plated bark. When in bloom, the branched-flowers are a showy upright cluster of pale white, tinged with greenish yellow.
     This tree was known to some as "the fetid buckeye," or "stinking buckeye." (Don't you OSU fans get angry at me for repeating that; it's merely a fact. As a child, I discovered the truth of that fact when I gathered a buckeye-flower bouquet for my mom. It was glorious in its vase, but it stunk up the entire room. Mom transferred it to the porch, but we still couldn't bear to sit near it).
     Then there's the Yellow Buckeye, Aesculus octandra, 60-90 feet tall with a two-to-three foot diameter trunk, also known as sweet buckeye or large buckeye. Ohio Division of Wildlife says this tree is difficult to distinguish from the Ohio Buckeye. It prefers the bottomlands along rivers and streams, and also grows in high locations.
      Both trees leaf out in spring before most other trees, and its leaves drop earlier in the fall. From the autumns of my childhood, I distinctly recall the joy of getting an early start on the leaf season, stomping and jumping through great piles of crisp, fallen buckeye leaves that gleamed in such a brilliant orange-to-red that I sometimes imagined I would be able to see their color in the dark.
     THE BUCKEYE HAS real history in Ohio. Our settlers found the wood to be lightweight, readily split and easily carved or whittled, and so they used it to make utensils, furniture, crates, pallets and caskets. It was also widely used for artificial legs, and thin-planed strips of buckeye wood were also woven to make hats and baskets.
     Ohio became known as the Buckeye State when Gen. William H. Harrison ran for President in 1840. An opposition newspaper scoffed that Harrison was little more than an "Ohio buckeye, suited only to hard cider, log cabins and raccoon hunting," Harrison gleefully glommed onto those symbols and made them his own. His supporters carved and carried canes of buckeye wood, and Harrison's campaign logo became a log cabin decorated with raccoon skins and a string of buckeyes.  From that point on, we Ohioans were "buckeyes."  
     In Oct. 1953, the Ohio Legislature adopted the buckeye as our state's official state tree, and when Ohio State University was looking for a logo, it originally considered the buck (male) white-tailed deer, then decided instead on the buckeye nut itself.
     ANOTHER BUCKEYE MEMORY:  Years ago, when visiting in the state of Washington years ago, I spotted an Ohio buckeye growing improbably in a water-side park. An elderly gentleman informed me it had been donated and planted years ago by a transplanted Ohioan. The tree made fine fodder for conversation, the northwesterner said.
     "When I run into an out-of-state visitor to our lovely little park," he told me with a chuckle, "I always ask where the visitor is from. If I hear the word Ohio, I point to the tree and explain that it is a symbol of Ohio, and especially of OSU... I tell the visitor the buckeye is a nut that grows on a tree with stinky bark, stinky twigs and stinky flowers; and the buckeye nut itself is stinky and useless and as shiny as a bald Ohio head, and is poisonous and inedible except to squirrels...
     "Now," he concluded genially as he peered down at me, "Where are YOU from?" When I told him, he broke quickly into laughter. "Oops, I forgot," he apologized. "I usually ask that FIRST."
     That led to a hilarious conversation between us. All because of an "alien" buckeye tree that had sunk its roots into a new place and had waited all those years to greet me.
(My valley property bears a lot of trees, but as hard as I have looked, I have not yet found one buckeye. If you, too, wish to "dish" about buckeyes, direct your comments to me at randrmoore@gmail.com. I'll happily share your memories through this blog, unless you ask me not to do that).


ATTACHED PHOTO of buckeye nut, courtesy Ohio Div. of Forestry

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A CENTENNIAL TRIBUTE TO OUR LAKE COUNTY COURTHOUSE

(Published in my column, June 8, 2009, Gazette Newspapers. Entered in my blog today for a friend who counts this building as part of her history too).

 THE CENTENNIAL anniversary of the Lake County Courthouse is approaching. That venerable building was dedicated in the month of June 100 years ago.

 The dedication ceremony was to be held inside the building, but unexpectedly large crowds and an unusually hot day caused it to be moved outside to the expansive courthouse steps, overlooking the lawns and trees of the town square.

An early architect-historian described the new building as one of "monstrous pretentiousness." He stated that he much preferred the simple elegance of the original courthouse, which became (and still is) the Painesville City Hall. But I have totally admired that "pretentious" building from the first time I became aware of it as a young school girl who passed the courthouse almost daily.

Who could not have noticed the huge Cain and Abel statues on either side of the front entry? Or the building's big front doors, looming with such firm authority, like medieval castle gates?

Walking up the steps to that entry was breath-taking for a child of my tender age.  I was impressed by the very height of the building, topped on its dome by an eagle that brought the building's height to145 feet.
 
And who knows why, but every time I passed the courthouse, I liked to make a point of checking the time on all four sides of the big clock in the dome.

MOST OF ALL, however, I revered the Giant Lion that lived inside the courthouse lobby. When I first met the Lion, I was a short and stubby 8-year-old; so small that I was known as PeeWee in my neighborhood. To me, the Lion of the Marble Courthouse Fountain seemed so large and powerful. He soon became my favorite after-school adventure.
 
To test my courage (or perhaps to build my courage up), I often stood before that marble masterpiece, like David facing down Goliath. I would boldly stare   up into the Lion's fearsome face, and as the Lion fixed his glowering gaze upon me, I would stand unflinching in the shadow of his foreboding presence. Somehow, every time I left his presence to begin my journey homeward, I would feel just a little taller and a little braver.

 Years later, in adulthood, I began to doubt that childhood memory; I couldn't find my Lion in the courthouse; perhaps he didn't live there anymore; perhaps he never did. But then one day, while visiting within that Sanctuary of the Law, I stepped into a minor niche to let a group of people pass. Suddenly I realized... I was leaning up against the marble Lion of my childhood!

He bore the same fine visage I'd remembered, but now he seemed so very small. I was looking DOWN at him, and he was looking UP at me. From the vantage of a taller, grown-up me, the Lion was no longer oversized or fearsome. I laughed; it wasn't HE whose size had changed; it was my own.

But he, smaller than the Lion of my memory, still had value to me. Quietly I thanked him for the little bit of courage he had prompted with his presence years ago, for a little girl to grow on.

HISTORICAL NOTES:

   *On the June 25 dedication day in 1909, Rev. T. F. Phillips of the Methodist Episcopal Church delivered the prayer. Prosecuting Attorney Elbert F. Blakely introduced the speaker, Congressman Paul W. Howland. Howland presented the new building to Judge Arlington G. Reynolds, who accepted it on behalf of Lake County.

   *Prominent regional architect J. Milton Dyer designed the building. The cornerstone was laid in July 1907, with no fanfare and few witnesses. (The only person to speak, apparently, was the janitor, who thought a "few wise words" were called for).

   *Interior detailing for the building, including walls, banisters, bas reliefs and other appointments, were crafted of fine Vermont marble. The rotunda was embellished with murals of Lake County significance, and the main corridor was distinguished by a recessed and handsomely detailed glass skylight.

   *The 1,000-lb. bronze eagle atop the dome was moulded by a Perry native, Samuel West.

   *The figural designs for the statues of Cain and Abel were by award-winning Danish-born American sculptor Merman Matzen. A Milanese carver, Paul Gandola, did the actual carving from Matzen's models. The Bedford limestone statues are each 9-feet high and 9 tons heavy, minus the pedestals.

  *A brass elevator was installed, and when it was replaced many years later with a modern automated type, it was the last person-attended elevator to be found in the county. It was sad for some of us to see the old brass elevator and its attendant gone.

  *Prosecutor Homer Harper was responsible for formulation of the inscribed stone tablets flanking the outside front entrance; like Cain and Abel, they were among the last exterior adornments to be attached.

  *On dedication day, the marble lion-head fountain hadn't yet taken up residence in the building; it remained one of the last of the interior adornments. Designed and manufactured by Davis Marble Company, it was not installed until 1912.

   *It was 1948, or thereabouts, when the Lion was discovered by a certain Painesville schoolgirl who still holds that lion in her heart and memory..   

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

SEPTEMBER! ROSE LOVES IT AND SHE ALWAYS WILL!


     September is a glorious month; who could deny it? But within the past dozen years, something has changed. Google up the word "September" on your computer, and you'll no longer find the words of poets and essayists and editorial writers who have always been inspired by this month and the loveliness it bestows upon us, day and night.
     Now it seems the beauties of September are hidden behind the dark veil of the memories of the catastrophic events of 9-11, 2001.
     The bright September sunshine may still be present in our skies, but say the word "September," and for many people it evokes a memory of smoke-filled skies, collapsing buildings,and the stark drumbeat of death...
     But for me, I still love September. I always have and always will. September sings its own strong song to me, and I refuse to let the 9-11 memories obscure it.
     September is my favorite month. In fact, that's why I chose September for my wedding day, and then I had good reason to love September even more.
      September is fine wine; it is the year matured. Blue and gold and green, it opens up my eyes and elevates my spirits. It contains the autumn equinox, whose changes seem to beg for my attention.
     The sunrise of September mornings turns dew-clad spider webs to neon and creates a host of other-worldly morning mists and shadows.
     September daytime skies are mostly brilliant, and its sunny afternoons turn fragrant with the ripening apples, wild berries, grapes and grasses. The changing angle of the sun throws golden light onto the forests and lays a mellow hand on fields and lawns and gardens.
     September is a time of quickened step, big yellow buses, high-school bands and football games, and roadside stands heaped high with produce.
     It's a month when birds and mammals congregate and chatter, and so do school kids. Corn stalks begin to dry and soon will rattle in the fields. Swirling breezes stir up dust-devils, and wildflowers lend nobility to dusty roadsides.
     If each day in September sinks a little sooner into darkness, so be it; that's well compensated for by its sunsets, which can be spectacular.
     The nights are cool and quieter and soon grow pungent with the dying vegetation. The moonlight is the most benevolent of any of the twelve moons of the year, and it seems to add an extra sheen upon the night-time trees.
     And for me, a whiff of distant smoke is all it takes to conjure up my autumn nights of childhood, when the signature aroma was the smell of happy campfires and burning leaves.
     If I've had complaint about September, it might have been the threat of early frosts to kill the flowers in my gardens. But even that no longer bothers me; it gives me, after all, a seasonal respite from lawn and garden work. And as the autumn of my human years advances, that respite is very much appreciated.
     Now and then, on one day or another, September weather lets us down. But in the ledgers of my memory, by far, September's assets far outnumber any of its imperfections.
     In my beloved northeast Ohio, I love every season of the year, for different reasons.
     But if God would tell me, "Choose your favorite month and that will be your season in the after-life, above all others," I would choose September... The memories of 9-11 notwithstanding.
 
(In all seasons, you can reach me at randrmoore@gmail.com, to leave your comments.

 
ATTACHED PHOTO BY ROSE MOORE: "I especially love to be outside at sunrise in my valley in September, to watch the new day shine through morning mists that rise up from the cooling waters of the creek."---Rose Moore, columnist, Gazette Newspapers

Monday, September 2, 2013

A SUNNY, MISTY MEADOW...


     Early this morning, Bob's cousin Charlene and I walked together at nearby Skok Meadow, which was once the Buschmann family farm, just above my valley in Concord Township.
     Sun was shining through the mist, and goldenrod filled all the open space of the former pastures.
     Charlene was visiting with us from Atlanta, Georgia, where she thrives on daily walking. As a souvenir, I included her among the meadow photographs.
     This was a peaceful slice of time for us. So I will share.
      Bob and I will miss you when you return home, Charlene. And so will Mick, our dog, who has fallen in love with you.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

THE GOLDEN RAINS...

My dog and I just took a walk. Amid the warm and misty wetness of the valley, the breezes stripped a lot of tear-shaped leaves from off the old elm tree, and they flowed down diagonally like golden rain. Mick lifted up his nose into the leaves; he seemed to like to see them and to feel them as they fell. Me too.

EARLY MORNING RIDES...

August 26
My sunrise errand drive took me to Geauga County and from there to Trumbull County this morning. The rosy color of the rising sun reflected on the tails and manes of horses in the pastures and even added pinkish color to the barns and fields. I had the highway mostly to myself, and it was a satisfying drive... even in that early hour of the morning.
 
It reminded me of long ago when I was young and liked to drive out to Concord Airpark early in the morning and fly a little plane into the air, alone at sunrise. Those were the days, my friends.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

OH, THOSE DAYS OF CHILD'S PLAY AND BAREFOOT FREEDOMS

Every year, when the summer season is well-established, a question always nags at me: "When did children stop playing outdoors?" (I'm not referring to the organized athletics that are all-important in these modern times; I mean "just plain play!")

I am of an older generation for whom our outdoor play was a joy for all seasons. Even in the cold of winter, our parents shooed us out for the good fresh air and exercise they said was good for us. We built snowmen and snow forts, made snow angels, had snowball fights, played king-of-the-hill on mounds of snow, and sledded on the hills around our neighborhoods. With skates slung over our shoulders, we walked a mile (or more) to skate on frozen ponds

When springtime freed us from our heavy winter clothing, we shed them gratefully, feeling instantly lighter of weight, heart, step and spirit. In anticipation, we put our sleds and ice skates and other winter gear in storage and brought out our bikes, trikes, wagons, scooters, pogo sticks and yoyos. The March winds brought out our kites as well---some store-bought, some crazily homemade with newspaper comic-pages and balsa-wood frames...

We greeted April with our baseballs, bats and mitts; we couldn't wait to get the neighbor kids together on the nearest vacant lot to play, and those lots were always generously open to us. We hit the sidewalks with our wagons and clamp-on skates (with keys) and raced down the nearest hilly sidewalks on anything with wheels...

When May began to warm the ground, we gathered in small groups on porches, steps and lawns to plan the summer we knew would soon be coming, and we eagerly anticipated our summer play. We looked forward to those longer, school-free days with their extended freedoms....

BUT OH! THE SUMMERS! Those days of barefoot freedom! We stomped in summer puddles. We hiked; we swam in creeks and jumped into ponds; we staged impromptu backyard picnics; we played games with jacks and marbles. We sketched chalk-square patterns onto sidewalks to play hopscotch; we used our mother's clothes-lines for our jump-rope games; we hung on swings made from old tires hung by ropes in trees; we made tents with blankets over clothes lines or other available items...

We saved our dimes for bubble pipes and squirt guns, and mom and dad set up the nets for volleyball and badminton. We played croquet; we fished; we rode our bikes all over town and made hide-outs and playhouses out of cardboard boxes. We played war, cowboys-and-Indians, cops-and-robbers, kick-the-can, leap-frog and tag. We climbed trees, and if those trees had sturdy vines, we swung on them like our movie-idol, Tarzan. We made our own parades and marched through the neighborhoods on special summer days...

On rainy days, we produced our magic shows and puppet shows on porches or in garages or basements; admission was free, but applause was mandatory. One summer a special group of friends and I began to meet on Saturdays to write a mystery novel! (Who knows where that manuscript was hidden, to end up later in the hands of another generation?)...

We used our summer Popsicle sticks as noise-makers on the wheels of our bikes, and we saved the wrappers to send away to Popsicle Pete for prizes. On sizzling afternoons, we sipped cold drinks under trees and looked for patterns in the clouds. In the star-tossed mist of summer nights, we out-noised the cicada, played hide-and-seek and captured lightning bugs in mason jars...

By the time we were 10 or 11, we could ride the bus together to Euclid Beach and other places in and around our nearest big city, Cleveland. One of my favorite stops was the Cleveland Art Museum. As teenagers, we dressed up for that special place in which we liked to imagine we were guests at a beautiful mansion, with its outdoor reflecting pool. Upon arrival, as we prepared to tour the art displays, I usually took off my high heels and hid them so I could walk in comfort. Once I LOST those shoes, and just as I thought I would be riding the bus back home "all dressed up and barefoot," the guard smilingly produced them from behind his back and gave them back to me.

When summer blended into autumn, and the warm days still remained, the outside world was still our happy playground. We picked buckeyes to be used for hobbies and our friendly buckeye wars. We rolled and tumbled in the raked-up piles of fallen leaves and enjoyed the fine aroma when our parents set those piles ablaze. We sat under trees, the colorful leaves falling down upon us as we talked together...

OUR CHILD'S PLAY was free-form, spontaneous, unorganized, unplanned... fueled by our own imaginations. It cultivated our creativity, joy, and flexibility. It fostered many other saving graces we would need in later life. That included cooperation; we learned to understand each others' differences; our sometime-squabbles were mostly settled without grownups' interference; when there was bullying, it always seemed to be resolved...

We learned to plan and make decisions for ourselves without the set patterns produced by grownups had we, instead, been lodged in nursery school to play "by order and on schedule"...

Our "child's play" was accidental therapy that would bolster us through many seasons of our lives, endowing us with an inborn sense of laughter, fun, spontaneity and humor---a special currency for us to draw on in our later years; it would become as valuable as money tucked away for our retirement.

There were chores for us as well, required by our parents throughout the year; they were our responsibility as members of the family and community. We did house work, yard work, garden work, snow-shovelling and more. Often we did such chores for neighbors who might need a hand, and the work and play provided all the physical activities we really needed to stay fit.

SADLY NOW WE'RE seeing that the children of today are suffering stress and emotional problems at ever-younger ages. School begins almost in babyhood, beginning as child-care while parents are at work. Kindergarten is preceded by PRE-kindergarten...

By first grade, youngsters are learning to work toward and worry about the "Big T's" ---those looming all-important proficiency tests that strike real fear and seem to take a lot of the joy out of learning. Midway through grammar school, kids are pondering careers, and by middle school are beginning to worry about college.

Their recreational activities, organized and pre-planned by adults, are darkly shaded with the pressure of winning. In sports, our kids learn "sportsmanship" from adults who misbehave in the bleachers and insult other parents and even the officials.

Hours of homework every day during the school year, coupled with a year-round sedentary electronic games, have led to obesity at an early age, when children's metabolisms are usually in high gear.

I SAY THESE KIDS are missing something that can be important to their lives; as important in its way as their years in academia. And that "something" is a time for child's play; a time to just be children. A time and way to learn some basic things that can nurture human beings all through life. Even when, like me, they've reached their older years.
                                                                   ------------------

ATTACHED PHOTO... When my own kids and their friends in the neighborhood were growing up, sometimes child's play was as simple as gathering around the picnic table for ice cream, games or "making things."

 


Thursday, August 15, 2013

2ND LT. JORDAN D. KINZIE....



 
2nd Lt. Jordan D. Kinzie, USMC Retired, age 34, of Madison, Ohio, passed away Wednesday, August 14, 2013 after a six and a half year battle with brain cancer. He was born August 14, 1979 in Ashtabula, Ohio to Jayne Niles Fannon & John Kinzie. Jordan married Tamara Moore on May 26, 2001.
Jordan proudly served in the Marine Corps for 11 years. He earned his Bachelor's Degree in History from The Ohio State University and attended Eagleville Bible Church for the last 5 years.
Jordan is survived by his wife, Tamara of Madison; daughter, Madelynne; sons, Carter and Tanner; mother, Jayne Niles Fannon; sisters, Melanie (Steve) Peck, Wendy Meikle, Jennifer (Jason) Nemeth, and Valerie (John) Martin; in-laws, Daniel and Catherine Moore; brother-in-laws, Jacob (Colleen) Moore, and Justin (Lisa) Moore and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his father and grandparents; B.V. Niles and Mary Kisamore Niles.

Friends will be received 2-5pm, Sunday, August 18, 2013, at The Behm Family Funeral Home, 26 River Street, Madison, Ohio. Funeral service will be held 11:00am, Monday, August 19, 2013, at the funeral home. Rev. Bill McMinn of Eagleville Bible Church will be officiating.
Contributions may be made to SPIRE Institute, 5201 SPIRE Circle, Geneva, Ohio 44041 for the "Engaging Vets Through Sports and Rec" Program.
 
Rest in peace, Jordan Kinzie, USMC.
You stood tall in life, and tall as you faced your illness.
Througout it all, your wife, children and family-at-large set the pattern for family love and support.
May God give comfort to you all in your sad loss.
Bob & Rose Moore of Concord Twp.



Posted by: Bob & Rose Moore - Concord Twp, OH - uncle and aunt of Tamara Aug 15, 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

WATCHING THE PENTHOUSE PLANTS....

We call this our "Penthouse Garden." I planted this garden on our high deck after my husband returned home from a hospital visit.
 
The seeds went into the soil a bit late for the bloom period of the tall zinnias and sunflowers, so I added a few marigold plants of various types, plus red salvia and silver artemesia, to add instant color.
 
My husband could see his "garden" as he sat inside in his easy chair, or as he relaxed outside on the deck.
 
The sunflower and zinnia plants themselves grew tall, and even though the bloom has been delayed, we have learned to appreciate the tall plants for themselves--without the flowers.
 
We enjoy watching them dance back and forth in the breezes... or when they stand like tall soldiers, not moving.
 
Against the light of the sun going down at the end of the day, they take on a certain transparency, like stained glass.
 
Moonlight gives the plants an additional glow, like veils of green water falling over the eaves; or green waterfalls flowing upward..
 
Today, on Aug. 13, 2013, we see the brightness of red zinnias opening behind these "waterfalls"... We see the sunflower buds, days away from exploding into sunny yellow...
 
That will be beautiful too.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

AUGUST 6, 2013... IS ROSE STILL HERE?

SOME BIRTHDAY MUSINGS...
*I was born in 1940 in a hospital that in recent years was torn down to make room for something else.
*I was baptized in a church building that had been attended by generations of my family. It was razed in the 1950s and replaced with a new one.
*I attended a Catholic grade school that is now closed for all seasons.
*I shopped in a downtown that now is mostly gone, a large part of it having been replaced by county buildings and parking lots.*
*I graduated from a classic high school building that was demolished, and a new high school was built on the other side of town.
*My graduation was held in an attractive old theater that was taken down to make way for a drug store.
*I spent many a childhood Saturday morning in a reading room of a heritage building that was our public library. It too has disappeared from the scene, in favor of a newer building...
All this makes me want to pinch myself to make sure I'M still here and haven't been replaced to make room for something newer in the world!... (YET?) 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

Monday, August 5, 2013

MY DARK MOON BIRTHDAY...

      August 06, 2013 is my birthday. It's also the time of the New Moon, also known as the Dark Moon.
      The moon won't be visible to my naked eye, because this is the moment when the moon reaches its MINIMUM brightness, situated between Earth and the Sun, in conjunction with the Sun as seen from Earth, with the dark (unilluminated) portion of the moon facing almost directly toward Earth.
       Visible or not, I do know the moon will be there---thanks to a childhood birthday story told to me many years ago by an elderly neighbor.
       She described the moon as a giant eye in the night sky, and every month it would choose one child's birthday, and it would close its eye and darken it in one long "wink," to acknowledge and honor that child's special day. On that night, she said, I was the birthday child who was chosen for that honor. And I believed her.
        I later learned the astronomical explanation for the Dark Moon, but I never did let go of that old woman's magical story---fabricated just for me, the birthday girl.
         All these years later, I remember this kind woman, and I still love her story. And it hasn't passed my notice that my birthday again falls on the Night of the Dark Moon.
         Happy birthday to me!
         And thank you Mr. Moon.
 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

MOURNING THE PLAIN DEALER AS WE'VE KNOWN IT...

Years ago when I was young, an elder woman cautioned me, "Life is change. And when you find yourself harping about changes, you'll know you're old."
 
I recognized her wisdom and remembered it. In fact, I often quoted it.
 
Now, days before my 73rd birthday, today is the last day for standard delivery of the Plain Dealer newspaper I've been receiving daily for close to half a century.
 
I'm very sad about the change; in fact, I'm harping about it...
 
Uh-Oh... Am I finally old?

If so, why am I not FEELING old? Only sad.


(Photo taken by me from across the room, on this Sunday morning, Aug. 4, 2013, as my husband and I lounge with our Sunday Plain Dealer)