Thursday, January 29, 2009

Watching 40 year old slides or,,. stepping into a time machine

I tend to be quite nostalgic.  I like reunions, old pictures/slides, visiting old haunts etc.  This week, I have not been 100%health-wise  so thought I would look at the boxes of my Mother's slides residing in the basement.  After setting up in the darkest room in the house, I began.  Starting back about 1968 with pictures of my Mom and Dad; seeing them young (45 years old) with their kids laughing, mugging, or tugged at the heart strings.  The parties they used to have with those neighbors I wrote about in the previous blog were quite the event.  There were costumes that my Katie would be envious of.  Cowboys and cowgirls, Hawaiian dresses and shirts.  These people would have their pictures taken, sitting on each others laps; that is husbands with other men's wives and vica versa.  Can't imagine that now.  Maybe I'm sheltered. All having just the greatest time.  All, at this point in time, gone.
 Seeing my precious bride in pictures when we first started dating; 40 years ago brings little lump in my throat.  Oh how much has happened since then. Yet, a big yet, she still has that young figure.  Remarkable after giving birth to 5 little cherubs.  How we began our first dating; so innocent.  She was my first kiss. I was her second.
Then more pictures of my parents with my two siblings, Jeff and Rita.  With my Dad dieing in 1972,  they actually got to do more things with him as he was older and at home more.  Especially Jeff.  there were several trips to Canada that Jeff went on.  I went on one.  Next time I visit with Jeff, I want him to tell my more about my Dad.  I just feel a little cheated out of getting to know him more as an adult.  I have a few regrets in my life and one is that I did not do more with  him.  He would ask me to go fishing and that just was not MY thing so I declined.  I wish I could do that one over again.  It was about me and not us.
Then there were pictures of my grandmother Duell, (Mom's mother) up in Rice Lake.  I didn't know she was up as much as she was after grandpa died.  I was Coast Guard or at college I guess.  Pictures of uncles, aunts and cousins that I don't ever remember seeing. I wonder, when were up to Rice lake that I missed out?  Could it be that I have just forgot? Naaaaaaah, couldn't be.  Seeing my cousin Susie, who was my age, alive.  We were quite close. She died in her 40's.  Don't remember just when for sure.  She was a neat kid, though. So many aunts and uncles who are not with us any more.
Do I wish I could step into the screen and mingle again?  Oh yes!  Does that mean that I am not happy were I am now?  Absolutely not.  I would just like to visit, if only for a couple of days. Then returning to the present, knowing that I might be able to return if I so desired.
It's OK  to miss them, to love them, to thank God for giving the time with them that I had.  That is part of what life is all about.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Games I played in our home and neighborhoods

Well, let's see. First let's go with home.  Canasta was a game my folks taught to me.  We had a special card table cover that had little pockets sown in along the edge that one could put your "books of cards" in.  Old Maid was another that we played.  I think my grandpa Duell may have taught me checkers.  I played a game where you used a square wooden board with pockets at each corner.  You had these little round wooden rings that you would try to shoot into the pockets with small wood cues.  Didn't really know how to play the right way.  
A couple of games we played at the country school were Pom Pom Pull away and Annie  Annie Over.  In the Pom Pom game, teams would face each other across a 60 foot opening. Each team would link arms with each other.  They would take turns send one from their team, running across the open area and try to break through the arms of the other team.  If they were successful, they could return and bring one of the opposing team members with them.  Of course, it was all so fair.  There was the 160 lb. 8th grader headed across to break the arms of two 1st graders.  Ah, what fun.  Annie Annie over had the two teams on each side of the school.  The ball would be attempted to be thrown over the roof of the school.  If one was unsuccessful, "Pig's Tail" would be yelled out.  The team catching the ball would run around the other side and try to touch member of the throwing team.  If you were tagged, you had to join that team.   In the Winter, my family would shot up the resort and move into Rice Lake.  I remember playing foot ball at recess with a little football.  We were in a 4th grade, I think.  One of the boys broke his leg and we had the ball taken from us. Too dangerous. That did not deter us, however.  Chunks of ice were used then and the tackle game continued to be played on the frozen snow/ice play ground.  
We played a similar game in our neighborhood.  I was so blessed to live in this neighborhood.  there were at least 10 boys within 2 years of age.  We played so many different games all year round.  Ice rink football was one we played.  the long, rectangular ice rink was the field.  It really did not make much difference how much bigger one guy was than another when it came to be tackled on the glare ice.  One size went down as easy as another.  If the runner made it to the side line, or along the snow bank, where there was a snowy edge, he would run really fast. However he could be pushed out of bounds with out much of a problem.
  Another outside winter activity was skiing.  There were almost half of us that skied.  On the Hardscrabble slopes we would build jumps and see how far we could go.  We also played tag on skis.  What we should have done was to make slalom courses.  That activity would make someone a better skier.  That is what my brother Jeff did with his friends.  We basically were goof offs. 
In the fall, we would play regular football games, where shoulder pads and helmets would be worn.  I felt so big and strong with my shoulder pads on.  Made my body shape a little more pleasing to match the larger tummy that I had at the time.  As a little rabbit trail, We had neighborhood teams in Rice Lake.  Two main ones:  Jake's team (Bob Jacobson) and Auggie's (Steve August) team.  I guess we would have been about 7th and 8th graders.  We would even hold practices for the big game that weekend. We would have high school age fella be our ref.  We would play our games with much intensity because much pride was at stake.  What great times they were.  I'll never forget one time I was on the line and I cross body blocked two guys at one time and took them down.  One, Donny Folstad, was so mad he sat on me and wouldn't let me up right away.  Funny, how something like that sticks with me but I can't remember what  I went down into the basement for. 
  Back to neighborhoods games.  These 10 guys played so many different games.  We not all played all games. For example, not all of us played golf or tennis.  Basket ball games would be played as soon it got warm enough for the ball to bounce, at least a little.  I remember my fingers would be cracked and bleeding from playing in the spring where the ball would get wet and so would the hands and then they would dry, only to get wet again.  Our favorite board was only 8 ft. high or so and the driveway was sloped away from the basket, mounted above the garage door.  We would play badminton and have tournaments.  Stratego was a board game that several of us got addicted to and played all them time.  Ping pong in our basements was another competition that a few us got into.  Baseball games all the time played in back yards, where the fielders had to dodge small and large trees to make a play on a hit ball. 
 I look back now and that was so much fun.  This type of neighborhood play time is a thing of the past, I think.  Now all these games are organized and run by adults.  Is this better?  I would say maybe no.  There were no expectations put on us by adults back then.  No schedules to meet.  No travel. We made our own creative fun, it was not done for us.  As is the case, when one has lived over a half of a century, we observe cultural changes.  I believe the sociology of neighborhoods, both with the kids and their parents is one of those unfortunate changes.  We just don't do the things together like was done in the past. As an example of adult games in our neighborhood; the guys were called "The Tom Cats" and they would play poker.  the gals were called "The Ally Cats"and they would play bridge.  All gone away with  the $.25 Hot fudge sunday? 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Worst advice ever/sex education

Sex education of the 50's and 60's was just a tad different from what it is today. I always felt the farm kids had a HUGE advantage over us city kids. They were surrounded by the act of intercourse by watching the farm animals. There was a lot of bad info out there and I was getting much of it. Babies out the navel? Hey, maybe! My first source of info would be my Mom who was an RN. She was so "RN" that I needed to use a particular vocabulary when addresing parts of my body and excretions. I didn't have a "little peter", it was a penus. I did not have to make poo poo, it was a BM. Which for years I thought was spelled beum and thought that was just its name. So, enter biology class as a 9th grader and then next chapter was reproduction. All Right! Finally, I was going to find out how all this works. What did the chapter cover? Things like stamens and pistil and a flower. big whoopee! So, to mom I go and I ask her how babies are born. Here is a quote that I never forgot; " Well, when two people love each other they get married and then other things happen too." Yeow! Now there was the clincher!Another time I remember her telling me that sex is what we are, not what we do.    Obviously, I continued to live in blissful ignorance until Eugene Stadola clued me in. "You see", he said, "the baby comes out between the lady's legs". I told him he was crazy, that there was not enough room there for that to happen. You mothers out there will probably attest to that. I really don't recall where I actually heard how intercourse took place. Dirty jokes? Wise aleck remarks? Just don't remember.
Worst advice ever? Probably from my father. I don't know how the subject came up but I think I was in college. He told me if I ever felt I needed to have sex, that I should have it with a prostitute. I think he was probably trying to protect the innocent mid west girls from my advances. I can't quite imagine giving my sons that sort of information. Which by the way, I tried to give them a Godly perspective on a loving, sexual relationship within marriage. I didn't want them to have to go through what I did. The girls were Mom's responsibility. Back to my Dad. The advice he gave me, I believe, was not from personal experience. In one of his letters to his older brother, Jack, he talks about getting propositioned by a prostitute when he was stationed in Alaska. He told Jack, he could never do that because he was saving himself for "his Chucky". (My Mom)
I suppose there was other advice out there that was bad: invest in mutual funds, but the sex education is what jumped into my little pea brain first.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Skill I have learned from an elder

Two things come to mind:  A class in high school and instruction on cutting and splitting wood and all that goes with it.
I never learned about gasoline engines of any sort until I was a senior in high school.  I was down in the shop region, where up to this time I had avoided. RABBIT TRAIL- when I was in jr. high, I had a shop class and I was not good in it at all.  C+ on my windmill because my paint was running all over the place. Couldn't measure right, (still a challenge today)  so, I figured that just was not my bag; that is until my senior year.  There was a class called Power Mechanics that taught about gas engines.  Since I knew diddly about this subject, I thought this would be a good thing.  Heck, I didn't know a cam shaft from a crankshaft. Do you?  :-)  We got to take apart our parents lawn mower to "practice on".  That sucker never ran the same again.  I'm not talking about an improvement here.  Mr. Bergram managed to teach me about how an engine worked and the parts of it.  This knowledge carried over into my adult years where I have tried to do as much repair and maintenance as possible on my vehicles.  Some of my children have benefited from that knowledge. I used to replace mufflers and exhaust pipes, shock absorbers, spark plugs, adjust lifters, adjust carburetors and even replace a cam shaft with the help of a friend.  Now, with all the computers in cars/trucks, the most I still can do is change the oil and filter.  On a sad/dad note, I have failed to pass along this knowledge to some of my boys.  The story goes where I had one of my male fruit of the loins come out and check his oil.  "How would we do that, dad?"  I said, "first take out the dip stick".  "And where would that be?"  I had come short of preparing him on the workings of the automobile terribly.  He knows  now and even the daughters know.  There is still time!
Second story has to do with the education from an adopted father by the name of Dave Wilcox.  When I first came to Amery, Dave took me under his wing and taught me how to run a chain saw.  How to sharpen it, the dangers of it.  I even learned the hard way the files used to sharpen the chain wear out.  Wondered why I just could not get the saw to cut.   He taught me the fine points of splitting wood.  What you don't know about splitting wood, the wood will teach you.  This whole wood topic must be the theme of another blog but this baby is getting long, so I will sign off

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Biggest Lesson in Life that I have found to be true

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding and He will direct your path and make your way straight? Prov 3:5,6
The inventor know his invention far better than any other person. The inventor would know what is best for his invention far better than any other individual. Therefore, since my heavenly Father has invented me, He knows what is best for me and I must trust Him in that way. Who else would I look to? There is no other. This has given me great peace in facing the small trials I have had in my life. Nothing like so many others have had. When the time comes, I can only hope that He will provide me with the grace to face them.
This carries through to family, finances, health and possessions. I might not like it; that is not my job. The old Hymn: Trust and Obey. that's what it is all about.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Things that I enjoyed as a child that I enjoy today.

Being brought up on a 90 acre resort allowed me to do much exploring. As a young boy, 5-10 years old, this would include climbing trees to see how far I could see and watching wild life around me. Funny, that did not bother me but now, standing on a cliff or ledge? Yeow! Stand back. I would also find good places to build forts for protection. Protection from what you ask? Ah, the imagination would create the bad guys. Burying treasure and then creating maps to find the precious box again, ah what fun. I was alone much of the time at the resort so I needed to make my own fun and create imaginary companions to share in our great treks.
Now, am I still climbing trees and building forts? Not so much now even with my retirement time. However, I do like to find an elevated view so as to get the best picture. One thing still is the exploration. I still like to hike and see what my surroundings are like. My exploring nature has expanded to to further areas. This wonderful country or even across the ocean. God's wonderful forces have sculpted beautiful panorama of some I have witnessed and recorded but there is so much more to see. How much time will He allow me to do so with the gift of the bride He gave, I do not know. One cannot concern themselves with with that. As Nike would have it; Just Do it!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Most Important Advice I ever received.

Picture is taken at my retirement party, receiving a school bell as a present.
The most important advice I ever received was from my Uncle Jack. He was my father's older brother. I had been home for Christmas and was flying back to the lighthouse where I was stationed. Up to this time, others had taken care of me. All the way up through my college years, it was my parents. then came the Coast Guard and they determined my life. What after the Coast Guard was anybody's guess. Now, my flight had been held over in Chicago because of snow. I called my uncle who lived in the Chicago area and he came and got me. We got to talking and he asked what I was going to do after the Coast Guard. I said that I didn't know. His advice was: Head for something. You can always change your mind but YOU CAN'T STEER A SHIP THAT IS NOT MOVING. Shortly afterward, I watched Born free, about the relationship of a woman with lions. She actually gained their trust and respect. I thought, "hey that's pretty cool, I think I'll be a teacher; that's sort of like training wild lions." I have since passed on the "moving ship" advice to many students that I have had. They listened politely, don't know if they took it or not.

Friday, January 16, 2009

What was going on at my birth, my biggest disappointment and the joys of parenting

Picture is of oldest son Don in Eau Claire, winter of 73-74-Now his children ride in the sled.
1st blog- When I was born, our country was coming out of "the war to end all wars". How optimistic that was! Since then, I have lived through three other major conflicts: the Korean, Vietnam and the present conflict in the mid-east. I was right smack dab in the "baby boomer" population explosion. My graduating class in Rice Lake was the second largest ever to graduate. I think it was just in the last few years that there was another class larger than our 235. During those post war years were good years for our country economically and morally compared to where we are now. I suppose old folks have looked back and made statements like since time began.
Music was still the big band of Tommy Dorsy and others but rock and roll was just around the corner.
I don't remember much about movies then. They all were in B and W. I do remember my folks taking me to see "Abbott and Costello and the Mummy" and it scared me out of my wits. I spent most of the time on the floor under the seat. I have seen it since and I understand why I was so scared. I have been able to watch it now with out hiding behind the coach or having bad dreams afterward. It was difficult for me to separate what I saw on the screen from what was real. Any time I saw something die, I just cold not process that it was not real. My Mom tried to explain, but after all, I saw Old Yeller die with my own eyes!
I think one of the largest disappointments of my life was the loss of my father when he was only 52. I was 25 at the time and I was just getting to know him as a person instead of just a father. He died quite suddenly of a cerebral aneurism. I have often pictured him with his grand children and they with him and how he would have enjoyed them and they with him.
My mother used to say that couples with out children would lead a lonely life when they got older. I would have to concur with her. It is also a time pride to see what kind of adults they have become. Also, what kind of worker, what kind of spouse, what kind of parent, what kind of Christian. Not to mention the companionship they bring when we get together. The great entertainment they provide for Mom and me. I am so grateful to God for giving us our childrem to my wife and I. I am so blessed.