THE BLOG ARCHIVES: Previous blogs are archived at the end of the row of pictures on the left. The date posted beneath each picture corresponds with a date in the archives. Unfortunately the pictures do not move up to the top along with the blog.
January 3, 2017
I am in the process of writing a fictional story for middle grade school children about the Civil War, for a program called Newspapers in Education, sponsored by several Kansas newspapers. Going back to those days when American divided itself into two countries, the North and the South, I am struck anew at how we as a nation thought we had to kill each other to solve our differences. It seems that in this war, young men were seen as heroes and those with a lick of common sense, were drowned out in the shouting of those quick to take umbrage, those who thought their beliefs superseded all others. The recent images of Aleppo should so horrify the world that wars would cease to exist, but of course, they won't. Most wars, start with a Hitler, a Basher al-assad, ruthless dictators who practice total suppression. We were all Americans, could we not, during that time in 1861-65, have chosen representatives from each side to meet and work together at resolving the issues? I know we should have been able to, but then I think of Congress. :-) (more…)
November 30, 2016
“It’s A Wonderful Life” by the famed movie director Frank Capra and starring James Stewart and Donna Reed will soon be showing in homes all across America and elsewhere. Since the film came out in 1946, it has become a Christmas classic right up there with Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Both stories feature
beings from some other world with the singular purpose of delivering live-changing messages for Scrooge and George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart). But it seems another being, maybe from this world, maybe not, visited Frank Capra back in 1944 and was the direct cause of his producing and directing “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
As you will recall, three ghosts came to Scrooge, one from the past, one from the present, and one from the future. Mr. Dickens wrote they were ghosts, but if he’d had Frank Capra’s experience previous to producing “It’s a Wonderful Life” he might have sent angels to visit old Scrooge instead of ghosts. (more…)
November 9, 2016
Blog : Nov 2016
I write historical fiction and because my stories need to be true to the times, I research that part of the past where my characters will live for the duration of the story. I’ve heard so many people say our world, our America, is in terrible shape and getting more so all the time. So I thought for this blog I’d do a kind of poll and ask, if you had a chance to leave this “troubled world” of the present and go back in time to what is often thought of as a kinder, gentler time, which one of the ten people listed below would you choose to live in his or her time period and in his or her skin.
1. A man involved in the early slave trade—sailing the ship loaded with cargo from Africa because you can make good money selling those black people.
2. A woman in prison with Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, beaten, fed slop, and called a traitor and declared insane all because you wanted the right to vote.
3. A man on the battlefield in the War Between the States, Americans killing Americans, because they can’t settle their differences peacefully. (more…)
October 4, 2016
Fiorello La Guardia served a mayor of New York from 1934 to 1945. He was affectionately nicknamed The Little Flower for his small stature, only five-four, and the fresh carnation he wore in his lapel. Energetic and charismatic, he was acclaimed one of the greatest mayors in America. He called those who would fleece their neighbors; crooks and tinhorns. His weekly radio sign-off, “Patience and fortitude.” He lived the commandment, love thy neighbor, whether he realized it or not. Unlike most men in New York, especially prominent men, he wore a sombrero, and he was interested and involved in all aspects of the lives of the citizens of New York. He’d take all the children from an orphanage to a ballgame, and when the newspapers were on strike, he’d go on the radio and read the Sunday funnies to the kids., One bitter cold night, he even chose to preside in night court. On this particular night a man (some accounts say a woman) trembling and shabbily dressed, bent with the slings and arrows of life, was brought before him, accused of stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving family. (more…)
September 4, 2016
Terry Anderson was another member of the Church of the Locked Door. He endured 2, 455 days in those small dark cells devoid of sunlight, nearly seven years, and yet, on his release, appeared to be in good mental and physical shape, except for a sinus infection and a lung inflammation, both easily treatable. According to family and friends, Anderson was a doer, a restless man always searching, always actively engaged whether in work or social settings and it seems with a personality such as his, he would have crumbled, emerging those seven years later, a broken man. Instead, he came out strong, even joking. When asked what his last words were to his captors, he rolled his eyes and said, “Goodbye.”
He did not, however, despite the face he presented to the world, escape unscathed. In her book, The Hostage’s Daughter by Anderson’s daughter Sulome, discloses that he suffered for a long time with PTSD. (more…)
August 6, 2016
In 1985, David Jacobsen, an American in West Beirut, the head of the largest hospital there, was taken captive by three men in hoods with machineguns in hand. They forced him into a four-door car, where blindfolded, bound, and gagged he was taken to East Beirut and over time taken from one dirt floor hideout to another. In each place, chained to a wall, he existed in darkness, the blindfold always in place. Not allowed to speak, he was fed a watery mush of rice and lentils, and allowed one daily visit to the toilet. Eventually he joined other hostages and periodically new arrivals were brought in. They communicated in whispers, learning news of the outside world from the new hostages, and, despite being constantly blindfolded, were able to sneak quick glimpses of each other’s faces. They talked of their families, their homes, and shared their faith. (more…)
July 3, 2016
This story is on the internet now, but it happened long before the internet was born. I ran across it many years ago and saved it just because I liked it. Then, I had no idea that one day I’d have a web page with a blog that thinks I ought to feed it every month
and that I’d rediscover it in my files on this day in July when my blog was waiting be filled. It’s a wonderful story.
Luigi “Lou Little” Piccolo was head football coach at Georgetown College in the 1920s and from the 1930s to 1956 when it was Georgetown University. He told this story about one of his players who was at best a third rate player, but so full of spirit that he enthused it into the other players. If he played at all it was only the last few minutes of the game when the outcome was certain. (more…)
June 6, 2016
In every society there are rules for comfortably relating to others. Most people understand these rules and abide by them. But some are totally clueless of their effect on others. These people are stress carriers.
Rebecca, Sam, and Bob are three examples of stress carriers, but, Rebecca’s is situational. She is a grade school teacher and one day, dealing with a personal problem, the kids picked up on her angst and were unsettled to some degree throughout the day. Sam and Bob are habitual stress carriers. Sam fancies himself a great wit. His humor is razor sharp, his observations clever, but there is always a putdown of one kind or another embedded in his humor, his clever observations. Bob loves to talk and talk and talk and talk, and if someone else manages to speak, he waits to verbally pounce again, often taking over and finishing the thoughts and words of others.
Rebecca knows she was the culprit in her classroom that day and it will rarely happen again, if at all. On the other hand, Sam and Bob will offend over and over again. They have no clue, of course, and believe themselves to be friendly, entertaining, and highly likable. They do not realize the tension they create in others, nor do they know that as their audience seeks desperately to escape, others around them, who have been the victim of Sam’s “jokes” and/or Bob’s verbosity, look on in sympathy and often commiserate with the victim when he/she finally breaks away. (more…)
April 28, 2016
Research professor, Maja Djikie, at the University of Toronto found that those who read fiction, be it short story or novels, are not as likely to be close minded or rigid in their thinking, and are usually more comfortable with uncertainty. They are also inclined to be more insightful, less likely to make snap judgments, and are more creative thinkers. So it seems we could create a kinder, better world just by reading more fiction and encouraging others to do so as well. Maybe we should build more libraries and advertise them through billboards and TV ads as the antidote to terrorism, and also set a high level of importance in schools on reading fiction with contests and awards, get film makers excited about making horror movies based on a futuristic world of non-readers, and make book clubs for kids and adults the “in” thing. Does that sound far-fetched? Then consider the cults of the world where the many must give in to the demands of the few for the privilege of living in a world where reading matter must be restricted to insure dominance and the thinking brain shrivels and in large numbers can become a grave danger to the world. So in one hand the tolerant and on the other hand the intolerant. A no brainer there. (more…)
March 3, 2016
William Allen White, the editor of the Emporia Gazette, a newspaper in Emporia, Kansas, became the most quoted editorial writer in America and grew to be a world figure, even getting his name on a 3 cent postal stamp. His death was noted in newspapers throughout the world. He lived in Emporia his whole life, born there in February 1868 and dying there in January 1944. Yet, small town that he was, his character, his sense of fairness, his common sense, his likeability, his interest in world affairs, and his willingness to serve his state, his country, brought the world to him. Odd, then, that I should choose the gist of an editorial by his wife, Sallie White, for your reading pleasure. I was amazed and you will be too, that a man on the presidential campaign trail could come among you for a few days and have his privacy respected.
In 1912, former president, Theodore Roosevelt, was, after a hiatus, again seeking the Republican presidential nomination. During that campaign, he visited Emporia, lodging at the White’s home an entire weekend, a respite from the rigors of politics. (more…)