Saturday, March 28, 2009

Drivers Ed. with Mr. Tone

OK, everyone, think back to your Drivers Ed. class you had in High school. You all probably have stories to tell.My story will not be so unique among my class mates because when we get together for class reunions, we all compare notes on our experiences with Mr. Tone.
Mr Tone was an icon in the city of Rice Lake. He was the varsity basketball coach who lead his team to the state basketball championship against Milwaukee Lincoln, only to lose in double overtime. This was before divisions or classes in the state tournament. By the way, we were screwed but that is another story. He was a very successful coach who also was a p.e. instructor. Riding with him in the drivers ed. car was another story.
I will always remember the first time behind the wheel with him in the drivers seat and two classmates in the back. He said, "All Right Osborn, put it in first and let's go". My vocal response came from a blood lacking amount of testosterone, cracking with the words, "where's first, sir?" "Pull the shift lever toward you and down", was his answer. As you all know, there is a little finesse' required here. One must slowly let out the clutch as you give it some gas. If this is not done properly, the car bucks terribly down the road. At the same time, Mr Tone is yelling "Yee Hah! Gidee- up, horse". This makes the clutch leg twitch even greater, causing even greater bucking. It is a terrible, terrible thing. Classmates in the back dare not giggle for they know they are next.
While I'm on the whole clutch thing, let's visit about the hill park. You all have done it. You park on a hill, turn the wheels so that you go into the curb instead of out into the road and put the emergency brake on. Simple, right? Add to this the equation of the clutch. Mr. Tone would set the stage by informing us that we are 1 inch from a 1000 foot cliff behind us. If we go backwards 2 inches, we will roll off the cliff. One must put the car in gear, slowly let out the clutch while giving the car gas and when the friction point is reached, release the emergency brake. Oh, your turn signal must be on too but that is the least of your worries. Invariably, the car rolls back at least 2" and we hear a scream from the passenger seat, "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" starting out loudly and then diminishing in volume, simulating the fall over the cliff. Again, those in the back seat, there is not a sound; they know they could be next.
The intersection: what are we supposed to do? You look both ways as your cross through the intersection. In case you do not make that observation, Mr. Tone, with his arm out the open window, would slap the side the car causing one to suddenly constrict one's urinary sphincter so that one would not to soil oneself. I mean, really, a guy could have a heart attack at 16 years of age.
Sometimes, he would slam on the brake/clutch controls he had at his disposal and you had all you could do not bang your head on the steering wheel. We had seat belts by no shoulder harness as yet. People would see us come out of the driver's seat and wonder, "what is wrong with that boy, he is as pale as a ghost?" We had good reason to appear that way.
Casual conversation between riders? Talk about the game the other night? How were classes going? Would we live until tomorrow? None of those topics were covered in Mr. Tone's drivers ed. car. At least we have something to talk about at every class reunion from now until we all have dementia.

PS the car above is a blue 1959 Chev Belaire, just like the car my folks bought and I drove when I was 16. It was an automatic, of course. It was the only new car they bought when we were growing up.
PSS I got grounded the day I got my license. I asked my folks if I could drive around the block with Jeff. I took advantage if this new found freedom and was gone for 20 minutes, driving all around town. Last time I drove for two weeks. Yikes!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What is value of pursuing a vocation, hobby or activity that you love?

It would seem that this is a two part question with vocation being in a category itself. I liked teaching. I could not picture myself doing anything else. I liked the kids and the people I taught with. I liked seeing my students get turned on to science or really improve grade-wise when they put forth the effort. I was not like some educators who hated to see summer vacation come. They could hardly wait to get back to school in the fall. Not me. I enjoyed summer activities and the freedom too much. However,rarely was I in a hurry for summer vacation to come or the end of my career. I was content at what I was doing. The value of what I did? Theoretically to expand the students knowledge and appreciation of the world around them. Many times I would have a student tell me that they never really liked science until they had my class. You really never know what is going to interest you until you are exposed to it.
A hobby is entirely something else. The reason you do it is because you love it. If I might return to the last statement of first paragraph. One of my hobbies is bird watching. I never would have developed that interest if I had not taken an Ornithology course for my last bio elective before graduating. Up to that point, I had no interest in birds at all. Birdwatching was for twits! I had a most enthusiastic prof whose energy was inoculated into me. I became aware of the special creation of God called birds. Their whole adaptation to flight was incredible. To this day, I enjoy watching and identifying them. Value? A chance to see evidence of the Creator and the vast variety of what he made.
I love to bicycle. I remember the first year after I had bought my first good bike, I was about 5 miles out of Amery. I was thinking that all I had to get me back to town was this contraption made of two triangles, wheels, assorted parts and my body. I remember thinking that was pretty cool. I felt powerful, sort of. One can travel all over with a bicycle. What a great way to see anything; nature, old towns, even people. Value? You are taking care of the one body you have to carry yourself around in. If you are in the city, it is a money saving device, right, Don, Katie, Matt?
Photography has been an interest of mine for about as long as I can remember. The Famous Photographers School that I took a correspondence class in when I was in the USCG was a great help to me. I had my own darkroom and developed my own BW film and printed my own enlargements. I learned about filters, lenses and composition. I bought my first nice camera, lenses, flash etc. during my enlistment. Combining two of my passions, I have enjoyed taking pictures of birds. I also love taking pictures of God's handiwork that surrounds us. Value? Being a pest to my children at times when the old man is trying to get a pix of everyone. Seriously, since I have no artistic ability, it pleases me to take a well composed, exposed picture of nature. I can't improve on what He has done but I can record it for future enjoyment.
Don't know if this would qualify as a hobby, but I love to spend time with my bride. Being my best friend, and one who sort of understands me, it is most enjoyable to be with her. Value? Sure makes life a whole lot better, don't cha think?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Advantages - Disadvantages of being first born

This topic is from the jar.
Maybe it is a good thing that my two siblings don't frequent the Internet so that they might have access to this blog. They may have much more to add than me.
Being first born, you, of course, are the trial run for the parents. Everything is a "first time" for them. They might be over protective but at the same time, may have higher, unrealistic expectations. Realism may set in when number 2 comes along and both may diminish somewhat.
I was 4 when Jeff was born. I could be out and about playing when my folks were so busy with the resort. Jeff, on the other hand, was left in a play pen for hours on end. (So, I was told by him) I personally never felt I was favored over my brother or sister; they might have a different opinion. The child raising was left primarily up to our mother and she punished us all equally, I felt. I don't remember them being beat/spanked like I was but I assume our mother was an "equal opportunity mother".
One disadvantage might be that my father's free time was greater when I was out of the home so Jeff seemed to get more time with him than I did. Trips to Canada, trips to Isle Royal etc.
Since I got my driver's license first, I must have been the taxi for my siblings but that is not such a bad deal; you don't care where you drive at that age, as long as you get to.
When we were older, and Mom alone with Dad being gone, she took great pains to treat and give equally to each of us. She told me that many times for she did want us to feel that she was favoring one of us over the other.
A note on Rita. She was adopted when she was six years old. I was 14 at the time. Even when she came, the parents first daughter, I never felt we lacked for attention because of her. So, I really don't see any stark contrasts with being the first born.
I wonder how Don would answer this?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

What are you, some sort of boy Scout?

Probably because my father was a boy scout and his older brother was a "big shot" in the boy scout organization, I was signed up in the BSA as a cub scout when we moved to Rice Lake. It wasn't that I was forced or anything, I liked it. I earned my badges and awards and we did activities. I got my first airplane ride through cub scouts. Was that Great! The pilot even let me take the controls and make the plane go up and down. The guys was either brave or an idiot. I saw my first artesian well up in the Blue Hills east of Rice Lake on a field trip. I was fascinated how water could come out of the ground all by itself. It was winter and there was snow all around but where the stream of water was, there was green vegetation. (What a memory; now why can't I remember what I did two days ago?)
When I got old enough, I joined the Boy Scouts and started earning merit badges. Several summers, I went to Camp Phillips which was just north of Rice Lake about 15 miles. That was a great experience. We learned all sorts of out skills. It wasn't really roughing it too much; we slept on cots, in sleeping bags that were in canvas topped wooden buildings. I think there were about 4 to a building. Out door "johns" and body cleansing were taken during swimming time. A few years ago when I was visiting my Mom at her house, I road my bike to Camp Phillips and then through the camp. Man, was that nostalgic.
One time we were camping outside in tents on a bluff near a stream. We all had campfires near our tents. I had gone down to the stream and someone came running and said my clothing was on fire. I must have had wet clothing that was near the fire to dry off and the fire spread to "extremely dry" Gary's cloths. My wardrobe was drastically reduced for the rest of the outing. That and the ridicule for my stupidity made that trip most memorable.
There was winter camp that I really liked. In another area of Camp Phillips, they had converted an old barn into a building that housed many bunk beds. We would go there for a weekend and do outside activities. It was there that Mr. Maloney showed me how to start fires using birch bark, specifically telling me NOT to strip the bark all around the tree because it would kill it. You only take what is loose and pull it straight off. One time we got pulled on a toboggan behind a tractor or something down a snow covered road. Snow was flying all over us and we loved it. David, Charissa and Katie got experience the thrill last winter, right, you three?
The high point of my Boy Scout career, was a trip to the National Jamboree that was held in Colorado Springs in 1960. that year was the 50 year celebration for the Boy Scouts. It was in the summer between 8th and 9th grade for me. I think there were about 50,000 boy scouts camped on a tree less prairie with Pikes Peak right in front of us. We rode out in a bus and I remember our bus driver being quite the character. I had very little bus riding experience so this was all new to me. We would ask him why he would stop and at railroad crossings and open his door. His answer, "to let the train go through". We thought that was hysterical. He would tell us to keep our heads in the bus because if a truck would come by and take off our heads, there would be blood all over his precious bus. We stopped at several famous places on the way out. That was my first stop at Mr. Rushmore. We stopped at Pipestone national park. The Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD was another stop. There was a tour of the Air Force Academy that impressed me. The chapel was this beautiful, triangular, white building with a huge stain glass window at one end. Trips like this may have imprinted my great love to travel.
There were scouts from not only the USA but from all over the world. They actually had black top roads through this temporary city. President Eisenhower came in a procession and sat in a convertible and we all got to see him.
The biggest disappointment for me was my failure to purchase a bow. There was an archery range there and I liked shooting the bow. On the last day, they were selling them for really cheap. I took a bus to the range to buy one and I had not brought enough money. I hurried back to get some more but by the time I got back to the range they had sold them all. I cried.
Being the youngest in the group that went down from our area, I was picked on quite a bit. (Look at the picture above and you can see why my appearance just invited ridicule.) There were boys from Rice Lake, Barron and Cumberland that went down in the same bus. There was one leader from Cumberland area that I took to and was nice to me. His name was Art Yousten and I just looked, his name is still in the phone book.
All our tents were the same issue. Sort of a pyramid shape with two a tent. there were no floors to the tent and the ground was hard, dry with cactus that one had to be very careful about putting your air mattress on. We were told to look out for rattle snakes. They had combed the area before we arrived but we still needed to be on the alert. No playing with rattlers.
I believe the Jamborees were held a every 4 years so I never went to another. I'm not sure when I quit, maybe about sophomore year in high school when I got a job and went out for sports.
I do know that the Boy Scouts gave me a love for the outdoors and some skills to enjoy it. My folks never camped so I did not get it from them. I only made Star in rank. That is two below Eagle. My father made Life, one above me. I have the utmost respect for young men who achieve Eagle Scout ranking. I don't believe Scouting now is the big deal that it was when I was growing up. However, I still feel it is a very worthwhile activity. I never had my sons get involved because they were in AWANA and that had some similarity's and we did camp activities as a family. A soft spot remains when a scout, who lives in our neighborhood, comes around to sell wreathes at Christmas time. I remember doing that too.

Friday, March 6, 2009

My testimony

One thing that I wish I knew was the faith walk of my parents now matter how short it was. I asked my mother a few years before she died if her parents talked much about Jesus as she grew up and she said no. That surprised me because I remember my grandmother Duell telling me I would be a good preacher some day but I wrote that off in a hurry; heck, I'd have to give up golf. It is my opinion that many/most people that have a faith in their adult years their life go through three stages.
The first being the fact that they believe what Mommy and Daddy believe. They go to church, SS etc. because Mom and Dad go. The second has them in a transitional stage. This usually occurs during their teenage years as they struggle to find themselves. This stage many last 15 minute to 15 years and maybe longer. The last stage has them deciding for themselves their faith and then growing in that faith until their death.
As a child, I did not get much from Mom and Dad in the way of spiritual influence. I really can't remember anything from them but they must have said some things. I remember that during eating times it was "Come Lord Jesus, be our guest etc.". It became so redundant that at times, we could not remember if we said it or not. At night, there was the worst prayer in the world to teach a kid; Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should DIE BEFORE I WAKE, I pray the lord, my soul to take. DIE!! Man, I'm not going to sleep for nothing! No wonder, they had such a hard time to get me to nap/sleep. What a poor choice of a prayer for a little kid. My grandmother Duell was a big influence in what she said. I can't remember things specific, but I know she was religious. that is why I wurprised to hear what my Mom said about her upbringing
About 10 miles from the resort, there was this little concrete block church on hwy 40 that I would attend VBS. Mrs. Brainerd would pick me up and take me there. It is where I first heard John 3:16. We made David harps out of willow branches and string. We memorized verses to win prizes. My favorite was John 11:35- "Jesus wept". The shortest verse in the Bible! It was there that I learned to pray to Jesus. I would too. I was lonely at the resort, I used to pray to Jesus and my make-believe friend, George. If I would lose a toy, I would pray to find it and funny thing, I would. So, I had this little kid faith up into my teen years and then things changed.
Oh, I still believed but this belief did not control too much my actions or attitudes. If anything controlled my actions it was the wrath of my mother. I went to SS and church in Rice Lake but there was very little influence in my life. I was struggling with inferiority complex and things that many normal kids do in those years.
When college came, there was no mother watching over me and I became an idiot. I joined a fraternity to try and be the BMOC and that sort of worked a little but for the most part I was still just a little guy inside. I never went to church when I was in college. Only when I came home.
Up until this point, I thought real Christians were "square, L7," : zitty face, white socks, black shoes and pants and white shirt" where I got this, I have no idea. (See photo above) When I was a junior, there were some guys hanging around campus that were Christians and talking to students about a personal relationship with Christ. They were with Campus Crusade for Christ. These guys were cool looking. They dressed cool too. One sat down with me and went through the 4 spiritual Laws with me and I received Christ. Man, I was flying on cloud 9. I never knew that Jesus could live right inside of me; I just pictured Him in Heaven about a zillion miles from Earth. This new conversion was not reinforced by the fraternity brothers, nor my girlfriend at the time,(Diane Crotteau) or my parents. My little faith sprout was like the seeds parable, it flourished and then was choked out by worldly concerns.
I continued to live like hell, right through graduation. I signed up for Coast Guard and was sent boot camp. Good opportunity for prayer; nope. Sent to light house 1000 miles from home. Good opportunity for prayer; nope. got married; good opportunity for prayer; nope. My enlistment almost up; good opportunity for prayer; nope. Re-entered college for education degree; good opportunity for prayer; nope.
Into my life comes Dr. Don Birr. I had him for an ed. class. The first day of class, with a huge grin on his face he tells us that Jesus is his best friend. I could not get over how happy he was; all the time. I should be; I had a bride, two young healthy children but I had an emptiness inside. Only way I can explain it. One day after class I ask him if I can talk to him. I tell him about this emptiness and he gets this big grin on his face. I know now what he was thinking: "This guys is ripe fruit on the vine". I was. We sit down and he whips out his 4 Spiritual Laws and we go through them, just like I had done 7 years previous. I pray to ask Jesus to forgive my sins and ask Him to come into my life and guide me life.
I go home and I am soooo happy. My wife is not too excited about this at all. She has her own problems with two little guys to tend after, running the house and a husband that is gone all day. Next day in her exhaustion, she sees the 4 Spiritual Laws on the table and she goes through them and receives Christ too. Now we are not only husband and wife but brother and sister. Having the God the center of our lives has been the key to our marriage. We not only have placed God in the center of our marriage but also our family.
In Eau Claire, I taught in a Catholic school for a couple of years but found very little Jesus there. We attended a presbyterian church there and got involved in a small group. I remember the people in the group were not used to praying out loud a non-recitive prayer. Just a "thank you , God" was a big things for us all.
When we moved to Amery, we visited three churches but the Baptist church felt the most comfortable. Marion adams was the pastor and he was so down to earth that we were drawn to him. We got involved in children's ministry and have been now for 31 years.
To this day, I am still desiring to grow closer to God, His Son and His Spirit by loving, being grateful and respectful. All that I have is His and I pray that I do with what He wants with what He has given us. The older I get, the more I realize how much I need Him.