Monthly Archives: January 2010

AOL’s “You’ve got mail!”—let’s change it . . .

I recently found the comment below on a web site that promotes proper use of the English language. I visited both sites, the one from whence the comment came as well as the one that received it. As do all such sites (including mine), both have flaws. I believe that perfection in any endeavor is desirable and should be sought, but I concede that perfection is impossible. One can always find, via the nitpicking process, something to cite and criticize, albeit constructively, as is this posting. The site commented on is seriously flawed, but I am pleased to give the teacher’s site an overall rating of excellent, simply because it is superior to many others of that ilk.

First a disclaimer: I must state, with all seriousness aside, that the following diatribe is presented in an effort to change something that is probably unchangeable. Any attempt to effect that change is comparable to a situation in which an unstoppable moving object collides with an unmovable stationary object—nothing will change.

This is the comment that prompted my posting:

escher dax Says:

January 2, 2010 at 5:47 am

Glad to have found your site! As a teacher, I’m always looking for examples of what not to do. I’ve got you bookmarked now — very useful site!

dax (

Oh, please, tell me it isn’t so—I’ve got you bookmarked now?

And you are a teacher!

Long, long ago in the first one-third of the past century, in a time shrouded in the mists of antiquity, in a time during which the first six links in the chain of education were called grammar school, I was taught (forcibly) that the verb to have does not require a helper.

It accomplishes its task admirably without one iota of assistance.

I realize that I am swimming upstream in my quest to help others understand that simple statement—nay, what I am doing is hissing—oops, I believe I misspelled that word—into the wind, an act that accomplishes nothing more than soiling my clothing.

I am struggling to resign myself to accept the almost universal misuse of the verb to have,” the use of which distorts my vision and sears my hearing, but I’m having difficulty accepting it. I realize that my struggle, my battle to restore law and order to the proper use of that verb, is probably futile.

My enemies in this battle are legion.

They include such worthies as AOL (America On Line). The exclamation You’ve got mail! has resounded loudly and clearly ever since the inception of AOL—that erroneous use of the verb to have has corrupted several generations of English-speaking listeners and is still counting. The same erroneous use is reflected in the speech of our nation’s mayors, governors, senators, representatives, our president, in speech used in the hallowed halls of our ivy league institutions and even in the speech used by persons of tremendous intellect (none of the afore mentioned persons qualify for that distinction).

How can one possibly win over such an opponent as AOL? I realize that the company is presently on the ropes, but it has shown resilience in the past and will probably survive. I have little hope that it will ever change its trademark signature—You’ve got mail!

I can’t do this alone—I need help, so I am calling on our nation’s English-speaking population (including bilingual persons) for assistance. Let’s use the power of our numbers to effect this change. Let’s work to correct AOL’s misuse of the verb to have from You’ve got mail! to You have mail!

If we are successful in our efforts, its proper use may not spread rapidly but it would be a good start.

Let’s use the concentrated power of our millions. Let’s contact AOL and threaten to cancel our membership. Let’s bring pressure to bear on family members. Let’s contact our local friends and neighbors, our e-mail recipients, our Facebook friends, our senators, our representatives, the members of the Supreme Court and our president—in fine, let’s contact everyone that is subjected to the improper use of the verb to have (and that’s everyone), and specifically to the notice that, You’ve got mail!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


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Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

In his search for reality, Decartes systematically doubted everything his senses perceived, and finally concluded that the one thing he could not doubt was the fact that he doubted—hence this statement—Cogito, ergo sum—I think, therefore I am. Decartes reasoned that he was not an illusion, that he was real, and from that position he concluded that life and the world around him was real.

Don’t laugh—for centuries men argued on how many angels could stand on the head of a pin—seriously! And for centuries men argued about which of these came first—the chicken or the egg. They eventually abandoned the angels-on-a-pin argument, but finally decided that the chicken came before the egg.

They reached their decision by reasoning that the first chicken began life as a chicken, a being endowed with its ultimate chickenness (so to speak). It was created perfect by its creator and therefore is not moving toward perfection. It’s safe to say that a chicken, any chicken regardless of its pedigree, will never become anything more than a chicken, no matter how hard it might try. It will, of course, ultimately change its shape and form dramatically, but it will never improve on its chickenness.

The egg, by its very nature, is imperfect and is moving toward perfection, and unless it stumbles on the road to perfection and is eaten, whether fried, scrambled, hard-boiled or raw, or perhaps dies from natural (or unnatural) causes, it will ultimately achieve perfection—it will become a chicken. Ergo, in the beginning, the time of the big bang, the time of creation, the time in which the creator created the heavens and the earth and everything thereon (and rested on the seventh), there was neither chicken nor egg.

Had the egg come first, it would have presented the paradox of perfection arising from imperfection. The heavy thinkers of their day couldn’t possible support that one. A contradicting argument (if one needs one) would be that every chicken egg ever laid and to be laid, whether past, present or future has within itself the seeds of perfection, the potential of becoming a chicken. It needs only to be nurtured with the proper degree of heat for the proper number of days, and voila!—a perfect chicken emerges, albeit it very small as are all newborns, relative of course to the size of the parents.

The greatest potential for perfection in life resides in a far different sort of egg, an egg that forms the human embryo and requires fertilization, a pleasurable transaction which guarantees that human life as we know it will continue throughout eternity, or at least as long as the big bang continues—ah, not that big bang—I refer to the continuing expansion of our universe throughout space, an expansion that some believe was caused by a tremendous event called the big bang.

Unless my failing memory fails me the chicken, along with flora and other fauna, was created on the fifth day, the same day on which that famous existential couple, Adam and Eve, were created—existential in the sense that they took sole responsibility for giving their lives meaning and for living those lives passionately and sincerely (note the emphasis on passionately). In the words of the late Paul Harvey:

“And now you know the rest of the story!”

The very first perfect chicken, through a process provided by its creator, produced the first imperfect egg. The chicken obviously had to come first in order to start things, to produce the egg, an imperfect something that ultimately becomes a perfect chicken, and the process continues to this day and will continue on through eternity, or at least as long as chickens lay.

Got it?

I know, I know—the first imperfect egg came from a perfect chicken, so on the surface it would appear that imperfection can come from perfection, but that doesn’t count on the first time—hey, give the early thinkers a bit of slack!

Beware! Dumb joke approaching (I’m tendering an apology in advance, so be nice):

“It’s not the fault of that apple on the tree—it was that pear (pair) on the ground.”

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


Posted by on January 30, 2010 in Humor, Writing


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UTSA’s 1992 search for a provost . . .

I submitted this letter to the San Antonio Light almost 19 years ago, but I don’t remember whether it was published. If I were inclined to guess, my guess would be that it was published—and if not, I can say in all modesty that it should have been.

First, a brief one paragraph history of the SAN ANTONIO LIGHT, a daily newspaper that flourished for more than 100 years in San Antonio, Texas, but is now defunct:

The San Antonio Light, a daily afternoon and Sunday morning newspaper in San Antonio, Texas began as the San Antonio Surprise in 1881. The paper subsequently morphed through a series of titles including the Evening Light, the Daily Light, the Light and Gazette, and finally settled on the San Antonio Light title in 1911. The Light was published continuously until late 1992 and was then closed, shortly after its purchase by the Hearst Corporation.

This is the letter I submitted to the Light, a submission prompted by the search  by UTSA (University of Texas at San Antonio) to fill the position of provost at the university:

Letter to the editor, San Antonio Light

May 22, 1992

PO Box 161

To UTSA President Kirkpatrick:

In its search for the person best qualified to fill the number two position of provost at UTSA, your 13-member committee narrowed the field of applicants to one Anglo and one Hispanic. You selected the Anglo, and immediately protests poured in from various Hispanic student and faculty groups, political and community organizations and individual Hispanics, all charging bias and insensitivity and some calling for your resignation.

The Anglo declined the job offer, saying he would stay in Toledo “because we truly believe in the future of this community and this university.” Following his declination, you said the committee would continue seeking someone for the post.


You have a qualified person who wants the job, and was considered by the committee to be in the top one percent in a field of 200 applicants. He was the second best applicant in a listing of qualified applicants, the runner-up (so to speak) to the Anglo who was offered the job.

Why should the search be continued?

Let’s use the analogy of the annual competition for the Miss America title. The choices are narrowed to two people—one is crowned  and the other is named first runner-up for the title. If for any reason Miss America is later disqualified or is unable to perform her duties, the committee does not “continue seeking someone for the post.” The title and the crown go to the first runner-up.

While the competition for provost was no beauty contest, there were two clear winners. Scott McNall was selected to fill the position of provost at UTSA but has indicated that he is not available to perform the duties. Albert Ramirez was considered to be the first “runner-up,” and he is available and willing to perform the duties.

He should be given the job. Any other action tends to confirm theHispanic community’s perceptions of bias and insensitivity.


I don’t remember who was ultimately selected for the job. I would like to believe the Hispanic applicant was selected and if so, I would like to believe that my letter contributed to his selection.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


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A letter to Laura . . .

This posting was prompted by a comment made by a viewer on one of my previous postings (see at’s-reeling/).

The original posting was prompted by an apostrophe placed in the surname Obama. It was meant to form a contraction, “Obama is,” an other-than-normal contraction and somewhat misleading. Obama’s is the possessive form of a singular noun, and the apostrophe thus implies that the president possesses a reeling, whatever that might be. “Obama’s reeling” was the heading of a letter to the editor of San Antonio’s Express-News, the only daily newspaper (and fading fast) in the seventh most populous city in the United States. The subject of the letter was Massachusetts’ recent  election to fill the Senate seat held by the late Senator Edward Kennedy. The race was between a Democrat and a Republican. Would anyone want to hazard a guess as to which candidate won?

You’re right!

I felt that this venue was more appropriate than replying directly to the viewer’s comment on that posting—any reply I made would have been buried and would have rarely, if ever, been exposed to the brilliant light of a separate posting.

As an incidental but closely related thought, I recently encountered this phrase on a blog: “I’d have,” meaning “I would have . . .” I consider “I’d” to be an improper contraction, and ambiguous even if it were proper—it could also mean “I did have” or “I should have,” etc. Would anyone want to hazard a guess as to whose website it was on?

You’re right!

And now on to Laura’s comment and my letter to her:

From: (

William Strunk, Jr. (1869–1946).  The Elements of Style.  1918


1. Form the possessive singular of nouns with ’s.

Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. Thus write,

Charles’s friend

Burns’s poems

the witch’s malice

This is the usage of the United States Government Printing Office and of the Oxford University Press.

Note: (The italics and bolding in Strunk’s rule above are mine).

This is Laura’s comment on my posting:

“The Chicago Manual of Style agrees with Strunk and White re: forming the possessive of a proper noun ending in S by adding an apostrophe and S. Also, I’m wondering if you meant “feign” and not “fain,” which doesn’t seem to fit neatly in your sentence. — Laura.” (

Letter to Laura . . .

Hi, Laura,

Thanks for visiting, and thanks for the comment. Please note that I approved it exactly as you posted it—I’m sure you are aware that I could have edited the comment to fit my taste, and had I chosen to do so I could have deleted it in its entirety. You, however, cannot edit your comment after it is posted, nor can you edit my reply—that leaves me free to change, rebut or delete any comment that is less than complimentary. I chose to let your comment stand as submitted in order to expand my response via this posting.

As used in that sentence, the phrase fain to know means if one desires to know, or is inclined to know or is willing to know (desirous, inclined and willing are three of fain’s many definitions). Had I used the word feign, it would have meant pretend to know. I know that fain is archaic and sparsely (if ever) used in today’s writings, but I do not feel that I misused it in my posting. As for my choice of a word “which doesn’t seem to fit neatly” in the sentence, I am satisfied with its fit and its neatness—nay, I’m more than satisfied—I am proud of both attributes.

On your trek through a flourishing crop of words in the process of nitpicking, you managed to harvest only one nit, and that one nit apparently prompted you to rate the posting with a negative thumbs down. I say apparently because I can’t be sure that the thumbs down is yours. However, this I know with certainty—yours is the only comment on the posting, and of the five votes existing at this time four are mine, so I must surmise that the thumbs down vote is yours.

A grammatical note—I realize that the graphic for the voting process shows only one thumb up and one thumb down. I use the plurals (thumbs up and thumbs down) because I cannot remember ever hearing someone giving someone a singular thumb up or thumb down—sounds a bit naughty.

Yes, I vote on my own postings, and I always give myself a thumbs up vote—to do otherwise would be self-defeating, so to speak. Please let me know whether the lone negative vote is yours, and if it is not I will willingly—just willingly, not humbly—tender a public apology.

I give nothing less than excellent ratings to any posting, whether items posted by me or by other bloggers (I suspect you would agree with me that consistency is a desirable trait). I strive mightily to adhere to the adage that says, “If you can’t say anything positive, don’t say anything.”

As an aside, I believe the practice of one voting on one’s own posting is widespread, a belief that is supported by a comprehensive poll of several (three) bloggers. Such actions are simply the result of writers tooting their own horn, a perfectly normal and common practice that is neither prohibited nor restricted by rule or law.

As regards your statement that The Chicago Manual of Style agrees with Strunk:

I do not agree with your statement, nor do I trust or agree with anyone or anything related to Chicago, whether that person or thing be animal, vegetable, mineral, publication or president. I visited the Chicago Manual of Style online, but went no farther than the second page (the result of a search phrase) because I was unwilling to subscribe and pay for the “privilege” of going farther. However, the results of my search (admittedly brief) appear to contradict your contention that the Chicago Manual of Style agrees with William Strunk’s The Element of Style, circa 1918. In fact, the Chicago Manual of Style appears to leave a fair amount of choice for ways to show the possessive forms of words ending in ess—Strunk offers no alternatives and states that we should “Follow this rule whatever the final consonant.”

Check it out at I used the search phrase possessive of words ending in s and it returned eight entries dealing with that subject.

Here are the first two entries:

7.21:   Words and names ending in unpronounced “s”

To avoid an awkward appearance, an apostrophe without an s may be used for the possessive of singular words and names ending in an unpronounced s.

The following is a personal note, intended to clarify the term unpronounced: The ess is pronounced, but it takes the sound of ze, the twenty-sixth (and final) letter in the English alphabet.

7.23: An alternative practice

options outlined above may prefer the system, formerly more common, of simply omitting the possessive s on all words ending in s

Those entries do not show agreement with Strunk—they show that there are alternatives that may be used to “avoid an awkward appearance,” and they give the option of “simply omitting the possessive s on all words ending in s” in stark contrast to Strunk’s imperative to “Follow this rule whatever the final consonant.” Two of the examples given are Charles’s friend and Burns’s poems, both wrong and neither in complete agreement with the Chicago Manual of Style.

Laura, I spent some time on your site at I enjoyed my visit, and had you provided a counter for votes similar to the one I use on my blog, I would have rated your work excellent. You are quite thorough and successful in your quest to find errors in the writings of others, and you effectively use humor in pointing out the errors albeit, in my opinion, humor tinged with a certain measure of contempt for the inept writer.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


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The future of television . . .

A few minutes before I started this posting I suffered, and on a certain level enjoyed, my first exposure to a Hooter’s television commercial touting its More than a mouthful Monday offering. The commercial showed a closeup of a tray loaded with a prodigious amount of food laughingly termed a hamburger and served to Hooters’ customers on demand every Monday. This image does not show the Monday special—this appears to be chicken wings—but the shirts worn by the waitpersons reflect and effectively showcase the name of the restaurant chain—Hooters.

The More than a mouthful Monday slogan is a not-very-subtle reference to a sexual adage, one born in the mists of antiquity and one that exists in our lexicon to this day. Some women—those probably not eligible to be Hooter’s serving persons—maintain that in the matter of breast size, more than a mouthful is wasted, and some men support that adage—not many, perhaps, but some.

And here I must digress to report that there are some men that apply the same adage to themselves, namely that more than a mouthful is wasted, and some women support them in that belief—not many, perhaps, but some.

Picture this: A Hooter’s girl, one that has appeared in various commercials for the company, walks toward the camera with a heaping platter of food—the More than a mouthful Monday special. She holds the platter with one hand, on a level with her breasts, while in the background a beautiful buxom blond belle bellies up to the bar in a blouse that bares both breasts (how’s that for alliteration!). Her breasts are not completely bared, of course, but enough flesh shows to prompt a viewer to formulate an image of the entire area, a rather substantial plot whether defined in square inches, weight or lingerie size.

Projection: That which lies ahead of us is not just a matter of speculation. Soft-core pornography exists now, both on regular and cable television (cable pushes the envelope farther than does regular network television, but the gap is closing rapidly). I believe that hard-core porno, now available only on cable channels on a pay-per-view basis, will in the no-so-distant future be routinely aired, available to anyone of any age or gender. That availability will be limited only by their access to the television and their ability to select channels, either by pushing buttons on the television or by using the remote control.

Ultimately we will ascend to a society that protects free speech to its utmost limits, or we will descend into a cauldron of filth. We will ascend or descend depending on our individual preferences, but regardless of how we view the movement, it will be permitted and sanctioned by the First Amendment to our constitution. That amendment prohibits Congress from making laws infringing on certain rights, including a prohibition against infringing on our freedom of speech.

Hey, porn producers, directors, camera men, writers and perhaps most important, actors, cannot indefinitely be denied freedom of speech by being limited to pay-per-view cable channels. They view their products as art, and constantly seek to upgrade and improve their pubic—oops, I meant public, image. Such people and their products are protected by the First Amendment and its guarantee of free speech—they have a constitutional right to practice and purvey their specialties in all venues.

It will happen—it’s in our constitution, and it’s only a matter of time. I probably won’t be around to see it (bummer!), but most of our current population will be subjected to such television fare, whether willingly or unwillingly. And on further thought, perhaps I may be able to see it, either looking down on it or up to it—as the Spanish-speaking folks say:

“Quien sabe?” (who knows?)

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


Posted by on January 25, 2010 in actor and acting, Humor, Writing


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Letter to the editor, San Antonio Light—Big trees and big gaffes . . .

SAN ANTONIO LIGHT: The San Antonio Light, a daily afternoon and Sunday morning newspaper in San Antonio, Texas began as the San Antonio Surprise in 1881. The paper subsequently morphed through a series of titles including the Evening Light, the Daily Light, the Light and Gazette, and finally settled on the San Antonio Light title in 1911. The Light was published continuously until late in 1992, and closed shortly after its purchase by the Hearst Corporation.

This posting is a letter that I submitted to the editors of the San Antonio Light way back in 1990, and in the interest of full disclosure I must admit that it was never published. Apparently my letter touched a nerve, or perhaps several nerves, because it was neither printed nor acknowledged.

November 26, 1990

Letters to the Editor, San Antonio Light

PO Box 161

San Antonio, TX 78291

Susan McAtee’s article on big trees in your VIVA section on Sunday, 25 November featured some dimensions that sent me scrambling for my calculator and the World Almanac. Susan cited the General Sherman giant sequoia as the largest tree on the National Registry of Big Trees, with a diameter of 998 inches.

A quick application of “pie-are-square” revealed that such a tree hollowed out would accommodate a home of 5,179 square feet with the outer walls one foot thick. Since official measurements are taken at a point four and one-half feet above ground, floor space at ground level might be even greater. A tree that large would accommodate a ten lane freeway, each lane 8 feet wide with a median of 3.2 feet (and I thought one lane built through a tree was impressive).

I wonder how Susan fared in Geometry 101. Diameter is the distance across a circle, or in the case of trees, the thickness of the trunk. Circumference is the distance around the circle, the distance around the tree trunk. The General Sherman, last measured in 1975, has a diameter of 26.5 feet and a circumference of 83.2 feet. Either Susan confused diameter with circumference or the General Sherman has experienced phenomenal growth in the past 15 years.

Her apparent confusion also extended to a cherry tree (64 inches in diameter, or 5.3 feet), a maple (80 inches in diameter, or 6.7 feet), and the Goose Island live oak, a whopping 422 inches in diameter. Try to imagine a tree 35 feet thick and only 44 feet tall—such a tree defies imagination!

The article would have benefitted from outside proofing, perhaps in collaboration with  Bill Graves of Uvalde, Texas, the person that was interviewed for the story. And except for the misleading statistics the feature was interesting—well written and informative.

And that was my letter to the editor. This next bit of information may be adding insult to injury, but here’s another statistic concerning the San Antonio Light. When the Light closed in 1992, two years after the Big Tree feature appeared in its VIVA section, it employed 600 people including 134 editorial staff. With that many editorial staffers, surely at least one could have been assigned to corroborate the Big Trees dimensions. And I can’t help wondering whether the writer of the Big Trees feature was one of those remaining 134 staffers. I don’t know how well the writer fared after receipt of the letter, but if she remained on staff as a writer she must have had a very close relationship, familial or otherwise, with the people upstairs.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


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School teachers rock!

I recently received this e-mail, Teacher arrested at JFK, from a relative in Dallas, and I felt that it should be disseminated as widely as possible. It was very difficult to confirm with Snopes because of the profusion of articles dealing with the arrest of teachers including arrests for DUI, indecent exposure, drug theft, leading prayer, dealing crack, having sex with minors, early dismissal, slaying stepdaughter, brainwashing kids, kicking students in karate class, murdering another teacher, etc., etc.

The scope of these arrests and their reasons reflect poorly on our historically vaunted teaching profession, but they comprise an infinitesimal part of the whole—they amount to no more than the teeny-weeniest part of the iceberg’s tip. The greater part of the educational iceberg is comprised of teachers that are largely and historically overlooked and underpaid. They are the ones that work and fight in the trenches, the ones that dedicate their days, their nights and their lives to helping families and other elements of society mold students into outstanding adults, and the ones that are in a great measure successful in their efforts.

The story of the teacher’s arrest is untrue, of course, but it’s funny and it’s very creative, obviously penned by someone familiar with mathematics (I’m not very familiar with mathematics, but would like to believe that I’m familiar with creativity in the written word). I am using it in this posting because it enables me to expound on my feelings and my respect for teachers—and I feel that I’m qualified to express my feelings and my respect because I’ve been paddled by some of the very best—seriously!

This is the story as I received it in an e-mail:

Teacher arrested at JFK

A public school teacher was arrested today at John F. Kennedy International Airport when he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a compass, a slide-rule and a calculator.

At a morning press conference Attorney General Eric Holder said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement. The man was not identified, but the Attorney General said that he has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

“Al-Gebra is a problem for us,” Attorney General Holder said.

“They derive solutions by means and extremes, and they sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute values.”

“They use secret code names such as “X” and “Y” and refer to themselves as “unknowns,” but we have determined that they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval, with coordinates in every country.

“As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, “There are three sides to every triangle.” (The Snopes article added the following item: The teacher was found carrying code books written in an arcane language called “calculus,” which the NSA is currently attempting to decode)

When asked to comment on the arrest President Obama said, “If God had wanted us to have weapons of math instruction, he would have given us more fingers and toes.”

White House aides told reporters they could not recall a more intelligent or profound statement by the President.

It is believed that the Nobel Prize for Physics will follow. (This was not included in the Snopes article)

The comment attributed to President Obama was attributed by Snopes to Hillary Clinton as follows:

When asked to comment on the arrest, Senator Hillary Clinton said, “If nature had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, she would have given us more fingers and toes.”

House aides told reporters they could not recall a more intelligent or more profound statement by the senator.

On a personal note, I believe that neither President Obama nor Hillary Clinton made the statement. I don’t believe it because the statement is funny, and neither person is capable of exhibiting that level of humor. I have not detected one whit of humor in either person at any time since they stepped into the national spotlight.

Those that laugh when a person says something intended to be funny are not always laughing with them—quite often they are laughing at them.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


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Letter to the editor, San Antonio Express-news: Obama’s reeling . . .

A letter from a reader of the San Antonio Express-News prompted this posting. The letter was printed in the paper’s Metro Section (Your Turn) January 22, 2010,  In the interest of full disclosure, I must state that my Letter to the editor, was not sent to the paper’s editor for consideration. I did not submit it because of a series of rejections of my submissions over a period of many years. Many were printed, but now I prefer to air my thoughts on my blog. Word Press has never rejected one of my letters, and the letters are available to infinitely more viewers than is the San Antonio Express-News.

Letter to the editor, San Antonio Express-News

January 22, 2010

A reader’s submission printed today in Your Turn was titled Obama’s reeling. The apostrophe was apparently used by the copy editor to form a contraction meaning that Obama is reeling. In the literal sense it means that he is off balance, staggering and lurching violently (figuratively, of course) in reaction to the result of the Senate race in Massachusetts, a race in which the Republican candidate was elected to the Senate.

Obama’s reeling?

Such construction and presentation of the contraction Obama’s is incorrect and could be very misleading, providing fodder for various political commentators, particularly late night comedians.

One places an apostrophe and an ess after the name of a person, place or thing to show that the person, place or thing possesses something. Obama’s reeling is not a contraction, at least not a proper contraction as used in conjunction with the verb reeling. I suppose that Obama could possess a reel, as in fishing reel, but a reeling? Not likely! Reeling is a verb—had the article been titled Obama’s reeling in votes for Democrats, the contraction would have been proper and understandable. And if there is a fish or an aquatic animal that is known as a reeling, and if the president were fishing offshore at Martha’s Vineyard while on vacation, and if he had actually hooked a reeling the heading could have read, Obama’s reeling in a reeling. That would be a proper contraction, completely understandable and unlikely to mislead a viewer’s perception or conception of the president’s physical condition.

And as an afterthought, our president may possibly be reeling in a purely psychological sense, keenly aware of the fact that the balance of power in his administration is changing and has become off balance.

Had the letter referred to something possessed by our president, the apostrophe and the ess would have been proper. A few examples would be: Obama’s decision, Obama’s wife, Obama’s effort to nationalize health care, Obama’s reliance on teleprompters, etc., etc. In those examples the words decision, wife, effort and reliance all are things Obama possesses (well, I suppose wife may be a stretch, except perhaps in the biblical sense).

And now on to the use of apostrophes and esses:

From: (

William Strunk, Jr. (1869–1946).  The Elements of Style.  1918


1. Form the possessive singular of nouns with ‘s.

Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. Thus write,

Charles’s friend

Burns’s poems

the witch’s malice

This is the usage of the United States Government Printing Office and of the Oxford University Press.

I  strongly disagree with William Strunk, Jr. when he states,  Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. To show that a noun—any noun, whether a person, place or  thing—possesses something one does not add an apostrophe and another ess when that noun ends with an ess. That may have been correct in William Strunk’s day (1869-1946) as presented in Elements of Style by The three examples given by Strunk to show possession are Charles’s friend, Burn’s poems and the witch’s malice. The first two end with an ess, the third does not. The first two are incorrect—the third is correct. Charles’s and Burns’s are incorrect, regardless of the fact that This is the usage of the United States Government Printing Office and of the Oxford University Press. The various US publications on writing style are littered with errors and some should be consigned to the litter boxes from whence they came.

Just because the federal government prints it does not make it true. And unless my memory fails me, the Oxford University Press is a British organization, and our treatment of the English language differs considerably from that of the British people. Remember when President George W. Bush, on his first trip to England as president, was asked what he considered his biggest challenge on the visit? The president said something to the effect that he might have a problem with the language.

Oh, and if one is fain (archaic, but a good word—look it up) to know the plural possessive form of witch, one only needs to add an ess to make it plural and an apostrophe to show possession thusly: the witches’ malice. Please do not spell it and pronounce it as the witches’ess.

Go ahead—try it—unless the three syllables are carefully and properly enunciated, the witches’ess tends to come across as the witches ass—we would not want that, would we? Our listener would probably respond with a “Say whut?”

I can legitimately speak with the voice of experience—nay, with authority—in this matter of proper punctuation. I labored (laboriously) at various tasks during more than 22 years in the United States Air Force and during an additional 26 years in the ranks of our federal Civil Service. Throughout those 48 years I was called on (compelled, actually) to compose a wide variety of writings, including performance reports for myself and for others, and recommendations for various awards and medals for myself and for others (my efforts brought me several personal awards). I had access to most government style publications, and in fact brought some home (inadvertently, of course) when I retired from federal Civil Service. I still reference (and quote) the publications, but when they conflict with what I know is correct, government loses—I win. And at the risk of repeating myself, I will repeat myself—just because the federal government prints it does not make it true.

And here I must digress from my subject:

The thought just occurred that if one could literally repeat oneself, and if every person on earth repeated one’s self simultaneously, the world’s population would immediately double, rising from the present population (as of January 24, 2010) of 6,798,300,000 to 13,597,600,000 (From Wikipedia: The Earth’s population is estimated by the United States Census Bureau to be 6,798,300,000). That was as of January 24, 2010. I strongly urge than none of us attempt to literally repeat ourselves and especially not repeatedly—if we should succeed in our efforts we would soon run out of standing room on earth.

And now back to my subject:

Pee Ess: This posting is a continuation of my efforts to restrict the length of my postings in order to placate viewers that may be anxious to return to other more productive activities. I’m trying, but I cannot imagine any activity that could be more productive and personally rewarding than my blog.

Footnote: The terms pee and ess are proper words, abbreviations for the words Post and Script, and may be legitimately used in place of the letters P and S, the sixteenth and nineteenth letters of the English alphabet. If you like, you may verify their definition, their use and their numerical position in the alphabet online at

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


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Paradise and parkin’ lots . . .

I spent an eternity living and working in the Washington, DC area (1983-1986).  I worked in downtown DC and lived in Arlington, Virginia with my wife and, at various times for varying periods, with two of my three daughters. The two younger girls were single—the third, married and living in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, visited during those three years, visits that were nice vacations for her. My sojourn to the DC. area lasted three years—it began as a vacation dream and descended into a nightmare (details to follow).

In 1986 my middle daughter and I discussed, prepared for, began and completed a six-day camping tour of the Northeastern states. Our experiences and our emotions on the tour ranged from enthusiastic anticipation to deep disappointment, from apathy to awe and from hilarious to harrowing—those emotions will be discussed in detail in future postings.

We garnered so many memories on that trip that some have inevitably been lost in the mists of time, or were perhaps were deliberately tossed aside, and we have minor differences in our recall of places and events. Owing to the similarity of our shared DNA, we each feel that our recollections are the most accurate—mine, of course, are far more realistic than hers. However, because I rarely win any argument with my daughters, I grudgingly accept their versions of past events. They sometimes present a united opposed front, and in spite of my kingly title I lose—big time!

Shortly after I began blogging in April 2009, I received an e-mail from the daughter that accompanied me on the 1986 excursion—no, change that to ‘. . . the daughter I accompanied on the 1986 excursion.

This is her e-mail, presented exactly as I received it:

Write about us discovering Walden Pond and being so disappointed that it had a public beach, a gazillion kids, a big snack bar, and entrance fees. We found a long line, then discovered a booth with a ranger, then a parking lot…we were shocked. We parked, crossed the street, then climbed up to stand on the stone wall, looked down at the people, then across the pond (I remember when I had to photograph it, I cropped it so there was about 1/2 inch of water, then trees, then 85% sky, just to get the kids out of the photo!)…then you looked over at me and asked, “Is this what you were expecting?”!!!

Then we went to that famous cemetery with “Author’s Ridge” where Louisa May Alcott and others are buried…and, of course, one of your favorites, Thoreau. Remember you were talking about him (his stone was surrounded by his family), then a sunbeam broke through the tree cover and illuminated JUST his stone? I actually have a shot of that!

There’s a song called, “They paved paradise and put up a parkin’ lot”….that would be PERFECT for our Walden Pond experience.

What I remember most is that I learned to read a map and you constantly asked, “Where do you want to go next?” I would read something in a guidebook or see it on the map and if I suggested it, you just replied, “okay, let’s do it…tell me how to get there!” That was SO much fun.

That, and you pay for everything and the trips are always upgraded (from roach hotel) when I go with you! 🙂

Before I begin my actual posting (please be patient), I must address her comment on my upgrading our trips. It’s true. I cannot resist it. It’s in my nature, and sometimes it’s a matter of self-defense.  Several of our trips involved driving in mountainous ares of the Southwest and we once met in Phoenix to begin our adventure. My daughter had already leased a rental vehicle for our travel, a three-cylinder matchbox that would have required us to use reverse gear and drive backward in order to traverse any significant upgrade. I upgraded her leased vehicle to a specially equipped Hummer. Well, not actually a Hummer, but I did upgrade it to a full grown auto with six-cylinders, more passenger space, more cargo space and far more power.

I have been accused of making my postings too lengthy—some viewers say it takes too long to read them. I suppose the whiners—oops, I mean viewers—are anxious to return to some activity they consider more entertaining and educational than my brilliant excursions into writing—activities such as situation comedies and computer games, for example. In deference to those viewers I will utilize this posting as a prelude to coming attractions (a teaser, so to speak). A six-day camping trip by people as incredibly complex as my daughter and I cannot be scrunched (capsuled) into one posting. Our trip could legitimately be considered for a book, a tome to be placed on the shelf along with some of James Michener’s works—books such as Hawaii, Texas, Space, Centennial, etc.

I’ll get back to you later with more details.


Posted by on January 23, 2010 in Books, education, Humor, Travel, Writing


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Quickies, cashews and conjugations . . .

I have been chastised by a viewer who finds my postings far too lengthy and reading them in their entirety requires extended absences from some of life’s more important activities, including such vital ones as texting and watching television (I would surmise that the viewer does not read books or periodicals for the same reason).

In response to that criticism I am introducing the ‘quickie’ posting. The use of that term necessarily mandates a definition. From Wikipedia: A quickie is defined as ‘a thing done or made quickly or hastily, in particular a rapidly consumed alcoholic drink or a brief act of sexual intercourse.’ The word may legitimately be used as a noun or an adjective to describe an infinite number of situations other than those involving drinks or sexual intercourse.

At this point I must note that a quickie (the noun) may be either given or received. Examples would be, for instance, ‘The featured speaker gave a quickie to the members,’ and ‘The members received a quickie from the featured speaker.’

Got it?

This quickie will not involve alcoholic drinks or sex (not that I’m opposed to either). My intent is to post a quickie (noun) from time to time, and such entries will be quickie (adjective) postings.

Now for my first quickie:

Texting is a relatively new word in our language. Virtually everyone is aware of its meaning, so no definition should be required. However, since the word is a verb it is subject to the rules of conjugation (no relation to the adjective conjugal as used in conjugal visits).

Incidentally, the generally recognized basis for permitting such visits (conjugal) in modern times is to preserve family bonds and increase the chances of success for a prisoner’s eventual return to life outside prison. The visit will usually take place in a structure provided for that purpose, such as a trailer or small cabin. Supplies such as soap, condoms, tissues, sheets, pillows, and towels may be provided (bold emphasis is mine).

Hey, I didn’t make that up—it came straight from Wikipedia! Check it out at:

I haven’t seen an official conjugation of the verb text, but I assume the verb as presently used would be conjugated for the present, past and future tenses as follows:

I text on my phone daily (present tense)—the gerund of text would be texting, of course. I texted on it yesterday (past tense) and tomorrow I will text again (future tense). The conjugation would be text, texted, text, similar to the verb run (run, ran, run).

My assumption is based on the fact that all those that text use texted to indicate past tense, namely, ‘I texted the schedule to everyone.’

And now, to quote the bard, ‘Ay, there’s the rub.’

If texted is the proper past tense for the verb text, the sequence of a batter’s performance in baseball games would be, ‘He hit the ball on the first pitch, and he hitted the ball on the first pitch yesterday, and he will probably hit the ball on the first pitch tomorrow.’ The gerund in this case would be, ‘He is hitting 500 ( fifty percent) this season.’

There you have it—I rest my case. If text, texted, text is correct then it logically follows that hit, hitted, hit would be correct, rather than the current conjugation of hit, hit, hit.

I boldly, with all semblance of humility aside, suggest that the past tense of text should not be texted—it should be simply text. The verbs hit and text are both one syllable, both end in ‘T’ and should therefore be voiced as, ‘I text her yesterday’ rather than ‘I texted her yesterday.’ The verb text should be conjugated as text, text, text. Try it—voice the past tense as presently used—texted, two syllables with equal emphasis on both syllables. Then voice the past tense as text, a word that is considered one syllable, but when voiced comes across as two syllables. Unless you omit the ‘t’ sound at the end of text and pronounce it as tex, you’ll pronounce the ‘t’ as a second syllable—try it! (Note that ‘it‘ is also pronounced with two syllables).

Come on, admit it—texted is awkward. It’s completely unwieldy and should be banned.

If my viewers will admit that it’s awkward, then I will in turn admit that this posting does not qualify as a quickie because it ran amok, completely out of control. If it’s a quickie, then it’s a quickie on steroids. Posting can legitimately be compared to such mundane activities as running down hill, eating peanuts (or cashews) and sex. Once started, it may be difficult to stop—nay, in extreme cases it may be impossible.

Postcript: I did not intend to involve alcoholic drinks or sex in this first quickie. I kept my promise on the drinks, but the serpent reared its ugly head in the above paragraph. I offer an abject apology to any viewer that may have found the word offensive. I did not delete it (behead the serpent, so to speak) because the thought was applicable and the word fit well.

Or should I say it fitted well, as in texted?

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 22, 2010 in Uncategorized


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“Which is the boys’ room?” An unscientific study . . .

In deference to any viewer with a limited amount of time available to read this posting, or the remote possibility of any viewer with a limited attention span, I will make this posting brief. My intention is to provide readers with a method of determining the room, or rooms in which the boys in the family slept in the “good old days,” specifically in old country homes, residences which in most cases sported a little house behind the big house. That little house enjoyed many names, some rather vulgar but all descriptive—outhouse, privy, toilet, outback (no relation to the restaurant chain), “the necessary” (for those of genteel backgrounds) and other appellations too numerous to enumerate.

Special Note: Enumerate is not misspelled—it’s a verb meaning, “to name or to list.” Numerate, conversely, is an adjective meaning, “having a good basic knowledge of arithmetic and able to understand and work with numbers.” I am well aware that I may possibly be the last one to learn and understand the difference—I only define the terms here for my own use as I read (and re-read) my posts.

Now back to my dissertation on windows, boys and nocturnal habits:

By walking a quick circle around old-time country homes with a cursory examination (visual, of course) of the window screens and window sills, one could (and in some areas still can) unerringly pinpoint the rooms in which the younger boys slept.

The little house, for obvious reasons, was usually located a significant distance from the big house. The trek to it was easily made in daylight and fair weather, but at night the path was not so easily traveled unless the skies were clear and a full moon shined down on the route. Under a dark sky, minus the light from billions of stars and an absent moon, the trip could be fraught with perils, including but not limited to mosquitoes, four-legged varmints and snakes (some poisonous and some not) but all had a debilitating effect on a walker when they slithered across the path).

And here it must be noted that country ladies had no fear of cold or wet or dark nights—their bedrooms were equipped with an item with various names—the most delicate term was “chamber pot,” usually ceramic, with requisite designs reflecting the Victorian era and the homes in which chamber pots were used. In my young-boy days and in my economic circles we called our chamber pots “syrup buckets.”

Yep, we used syrup buckets in the same way ladies in the Victorian era used ceramic chamber pots. Our chamber pots were not as large and not as attractively decorated as were Victorian chamber pots, but they were decorated. All over the southern states (I can only vouch for that region),  most syrup buckets proudly displayed decals indicating that their former contents were produced and marketed by  the “Pride of Dixie Syrup Co. Inc.”

The decals were eventually loosened and lost, their lifespan determined by the secondary use of the bucket. Our chamber pots, as did those of the Victorian era, had lids but ours were flat metal, undecorated and rarely used, and a wire hanger for a handle. The handle was always used—otherwise a two-handed system would be needed to handle (so to speak) the bucket, whether for using it or carrying it. Without the handle, a boy holding the bucket for its intended use would need a third hand—well, there may be some exceptions, but I doubt it.

Okay, at this point I must admit that I cannot write a truncated posting—it’s just not in my nature. I was once charged by a college professor in a speech-class with using circumlocution to make a point. He said that I, rather effectively, used a round-about way to approach my subject, and thus its major point tended to come as a surprise to my audience.  It sounded all positive to me, but after class I hastened to the library to see what I was guilty of and learned this:

Circumlocution—the use of an unnecessarily large number of words to express an idea.

I came down from my high when I left the library, but I am still guilty as charged. This posting and most of my others—alright, all my others— are proof of that.

Now back to my thesis:

Syrup buckets had a limited capability to substitute for a trip to to the little house out back. Chamber pots were large and syrup buckets were considerably smaller, usually the one-gallon size. They were limited to 128 fluid ounces regardless of the liquid involved, and any effort to exceed that limit could be disastrous. The buckets filled up rather quickly, depending on the number of users and the amount of liquid one or more of the users may have ingested before retiring for the night. When not in use, the syrup bucket was kept under the bed, slid in just far enough to prevent anyone from kicking it over as they stumbled around in the dark.

And finally, the walk-around to determine where the boys slept:

A cursory glance at the window screens and the outside window sill would pin-point the wrong-doers. In RWNBs (Rooms With No Boys) screens and window sills would be clean and fully functional. Conversely, RWBs (Rooms With Boys) would produce stained and deteriorated metal screens and stained and deteriorated wooden window sills.

Urine is ninety-five percent water—its physical characteristics include color, odor, density and acidity. The latter characteristic—acidity—is the smoking gun in determining whether the boys are shirking their duty to use the syrup bucket in lieu of making the long and perilous trek to the outhouse, and instead are raising the window to a height sufficient enough to permit the offender to pee—pardon the expression—through the screen at the lowest possible level. At that level the screens will be stained white from the acidity, and eventually will sport holes large enough to accommodate flies, bees, wasps, hornets and various other flying insects.

Of course it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that females, regardless of age, even if blessed with the skills of an acrobat or afflicted with the abilities of a contortionist, would never commit such a faux pas. I mean, like, let’s face it, peeing through the window screen of an open window was then, and is now and should be, considered a violation of social norms in virtually any culture, an obvious demonstration of bad manners—most young girls did their best to conform to those social norms—most young boys were completely indifferent to social norms—they could not care less. I feel that I can say that with some authority because I am a product of that era and that area—a poster-boy of the times, so to speak.

Oh, and just one postscript:

The syrup buckets were commonly referred to as “pee cans,” a nomenclature  that was pronounced exactly as many southerners pronounce “pecans.” A pecan, of course, is “a smooth brown nut with an edible kernel similar to a walnut (from Wikipedia). Folks in the deep South had, and still have, a predilection for pronouncing the word pecan with a long “a” and the two syllables accented equally as follows: ( pee’ can’). That peculiar pronunciation produced (how’s that for alliteration!) a really dumb riddle—dumb, but known and parroted both by children and by adults (a real ice-breaker at cocktail gatherings).

The riddle:

If walnuts are on the wall and chestnuts are on the chest, where are the pee’ cans’?

The answer:

Under the bed.

Okay, just one more postscript:

I realize that some that may read this posting, especially someone from regions other than the deep South (the nether regions), will tend to place it in Ripley’s “Believe it or Not” category. Please rest assured that everything is true, and I will bolster that assurance by using Jack Parr’s trademark catchphrase from The Tonight Show: I kid you not!


Posted by on January 18, 2010 in Childhood, health, Humor


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A return to THE TOMATO TEMPEST—check it out!

I began blogging in March, 2009 in response to an e-mail from one of my daughters. I ended that first posting with a question for my viewers, and ten months later I have yet to receive any answers to that question. This is a repeat of that first posting. Since the question remains unanswered I’ll ask it again, just as it appeared in the initial posting—the question will appear again at the conclusion of “THE TOMATO TEMPEST.”

Please feel free to voice your thoughts. I assure you that your comments will not be edited for content, whether negative or positive. However, I must state that any errors in spelling and punctuation will be corrected—I can’t resist that—it’s in my nature!

Note for readers of this posting (if any):

I’ll leave it up to you, the viewers who blindly stumble onto my blog—should I write my memoirs, with the purpose of publishing a book? Should I consolidate and cement those memories for others to enjoy, or should I be selfish and keep them all to myself?

If you respond, I have only one request:

Be honest, but be gentle!

The tomato tempest

Recently one of my three princesses (daughters) e-mailed me excerpts from a diary she kept early in her working career as a graphic designer. Her incredibly detailed (and lengthy) notes prompted an incredibly detailed (and lengthy) answer. To read those excerpts, check out that posting on her blog at

This is my response to my daughter’s e-mail

Your diary is a great read, and your posting brings back a host of memories for me. I wish I had the discipline necessary to do the diary thing. I believe I’ll start one now by backtracking through the past—it will necessarily be in the “stream of consciousness” vein, and nowhere approaching chronological order because I’ll probably never get the dates accurately sorted out.

Here’s a brief (?) example, a memory that came, unbidden and unexplainable, while I was reading your e-mail. It’s an incident that occurred a year or two after my mother married my stepfather.

I’ll call the incident:

The tomato tempest

My sister and I, with our mother and our recently acquired stepfather, traveled the 12 miles from Columbus, Mississippi to a farm near Ethelsville, Alabama to visit Papa’s sister, a red-haired wife who had become a widow a few weeks earlier—her husband killed himself. Yep, committed suicide. On a cool fall evening after supper he left his wife and three sons in the house, walked a short distance into the woods and into a ravine near the house (ravines are called hollows and pronounced “hollers” by Alabama country folks) and slashed his throat with a straight razor. His hounds found him early the next morning, and their baying alerted the family. One of his three sons was the first on the scene.

As Papa John explained it, “He damn near cut his head off.” I never knew why my aunt’s husband killed himself. Perhaps no one knew, but he may have done it because Papa’s sister, as long as I knew her, constantly whistled country singer Eddie Arnold’s “Cattle Call” song between her teeth—day and night, at work and at play. It may have been that her husband simply got “mad as hell and couldn’t take it anymore” and took the only way out—not the only way, perhaps, but certainly one of the quickest ways available to him—it may have been a classic case of, “One of us has to go, so it’s either her or me.”

The year would have been around 1942-1943. With the advent of World War II, America was recovering from the Great Depression, but recovery was slower in the South than in other sections of the country (similar to the South’s recovery after the “War Between The States,” known by some as the “Civil War”).

In a more serious vein, the father’s action may reasonably be attributed, at least in part, to the severe economic times. He and his family were share-croppers, tenants eking out a living by sharing the profits from crop returns with the land owner. The land-owner furnished housing, land, seed and farm implements, and extended credit to the family. In return the family did the work of clearing, planting, tending and harvesting the crops. The division of profits was always heavily in the landholder’s favor.

That the larger portion of profits accrued to the land-owner is understandable, but in far too many instances the paltry portion extended to the family, coupled with the family’s dependence on credit for the following year, guaranteed that they could never hope to rise above the share-cropper level.

A share-cropper and his family had a hand-to-mouth existence—they existed on credit until crops were harvested and sold, paid their debts with their share of the profits and promptly began using credit to get through the next growing season. If this seems to reflect a bleak existence with little hope for the future, it’s because the reflection was true—very little hope for the future existed.

I have vivid memories of the house. It sat near the woods a half-mile or so off the paved highway at the end of a winding one-lane dirt road, little more than two ruts between cotton fields. The farmhouse was typical of the time—built on piers, walls of unpainted ship-lap boards, rusting tin roof, a brick chimney, kitchen, dining room, living room and two bedrooms—the living room with the fireplace did double duty as a living room and bedroom.

The living room and two bedrooms were separated from the kitchen and dining room by a “dog-run,” an wide open concourse running from front to rear of the house. Breezes flowing through the dog-run helped cool the home in summer, and provided shelter for the dogs at night and in inclement weather (hence the term “dog-run”). In later years in many of such houses, the dog-run was enclosed to provide additional interior space, either as a wide hallway or for additional rooms or storage space—either way, the change put the dogs at a definite disadvantage. In all my memories, none is of full-grown hounds being allowed into the house, regardless of the weather—they took up far too much space and produced far too many bad odors.

This was my only visit to the farmhouse. My mother took various foodstuffs to the family on that visit, including a small bag of fresh tomatoes, items that would figure prominently in our lives following our one-day excursion to visit the family. We arrived early in the day and stayed until late afternoon. We ate dinner with the family at noon, a meal which included sliced tomatoes. My sister was about 12 years old, some 18 months older than I. She loved sliced tomatoes, and on that day ate perhaps what could be described as “more than her share” of them—however, the plate was repeatedly passed at her request with no admonitions from anyone.

When we left to return home, our route to the paved highway was blocked by a huge pile of brush placed there by my aunt’s youngest child, a boy a bit younger than my 11 years. If I ever knew why he did it I don’t remember the reason, but I do remember Papa’s frustration and his language—he had to clear the path before we could move on. I remember the air in that area turning blue. His language probably stemmed from his intake of alcohol during the day. We were to learn in later years that Papa John was a confirmed alcoholic, a trait that would exist for many years and figure prominently in our future.

Our supper at home that evening included a plate heaped high with sliced tomatoes. Papa John kept passing the tomatoes to my sister, and she cheerfully accepted additional helpings. However, when she had her fill of sliced tomatoes he insisted she take more, telling her that she had insulted him, his sister and his sister’s sons by eating so many at noon, that the tomatoes had been taken there for a grieving family, and should have been theirs. When she stubbornly refused to eat more, he reached across the table and struck her, open-handed, on the left side of her head, a blow that he repeated two more times, inter-spaced with the question, “I told you to eat them!” I remember my mother saying, “No, John, that’s enough, don’t hit her anymore.”

We lived in a two-story colonial style house that, in the early years of World War II, had been converted into several apartments. One of my older sisters lived in the front downstairs unit with her husband and young daughter, a two-year old, and we lived in the downstairs rear unit. Our combination kitchen and dining room opened onto the back porch.

When my older sister heard the commotion she rushed into our kitchen. All of us—my sister, mother, stepfather and I were on our feet when she arrived and charged into our stepfather. Papa John didn’t hit her, but he shoved her violently out the door with so much force that she fell off the porch. Other than minor bruises and injury to her pride, she was not hurt. Her husband wasn’t home at the time, and she returned to her apartment saying that she would tell him everything and he would deal with Papa John later. Our stepfather responded by saying his pistol was “loaded and ready.”

And it was. Papa John kept an Army-issue Colt .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol at his bedside, with a full clip and a round in the chamber, the safety off and the hammer fully cocked. His reasoning for that was to insure that the weapon could be fired quickly in an emergency—to fire it he could simply pick it up, squeeze the hand grips to override the final safety feature, and pull the trigger. He proudly told people that neither my sister nor I would ever touch the weapon—he was blissfully unaware of the many times I handled the Colt, pointing and sighting it at objects and people (including him), having morphed with the weapon in my hand into the Lone Ranger, Tom Mix, Lash LaRue, Don (Red) Barry, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers or any one of the host of Hollywood cowboys so prominent in my boyhood (trust me, I can name ‘em all).

Nothing else ever came of the incident. The end result was a permanent partial loss of hearing and untold psychological damage for my younger sister, and an enduring hatred of Papa John by the older sister he threw out of the kitchen. Later in the evening our stepfather apologized profusely to my younger sister, an apology that included tears—his, not hers. She listened stoically and made no response, nor did I respond, mainly because the apology was not addressed to me—I decided that the less said, the better, a maxim that would characterize and shape my actions far into the future, especially when Papa was involved.  To my knowledge, no apology was ever offered to the sister thrown out of the kitchen.

Okay, so what do you think?

Should I start writing my autobiography/memoirs, entitled something similar to “Memoirs of Mikey” or perhaps “Mike’s Memoirs” or maybe “Confessions of a Step-child”? This is just one incident in one day in a life which at this point has covered some 76 and one-half years. I can conjure up at least 16,900,027 vignettes from those years, all true. Not that truth matters—there is no one alive who can confirm, deny or dispute anything I might say or write concerning the first 19 of those years. For the following 57 years I’ll need to be stick closely to the truth, because your mother and your sisters may disagree with some of my memories.

Just imagine—Oprah might select my book for her reading club, and I would be on her show, and you could come along and photograph the proceedings—oh, and you could also save me a lot of money by producing my literary blockbuster.

Note for readers of this posting (if any):

I’ll leave it up to you, the viewers who blindly stumble onto my blog—should I write my memoirs, with the purpose of publishing a book? Should I consolidate and cement those memories for others to enjoy, or should I be selfish and keep them all to myself?

If you respond, I have only one request:

Be honest, but be gentle!


Posted by on January 17, 2010 in Childhood, death, Family, Humor, Writing


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An adoption option—I could’uh been uh contenduh!

In his 1954 black-and-white movie “On the Waterfront,” Marlon Brando dreamed of being a great fighter and winning titles. He eventually was relegated to working on waterfront docks, but always maintained that with the right handling and the right breaks, he could have been a contender for national prizefight titles—thus his plaint “I could’uh been uh contenduh!”

As a young boy I dreamed variously of becoming a cowboy, an explorer, an Indian fighter, an Indian, a pilot, a continental bus driver, a soldier or sailor or airman, a policeman, a taxi driver, a husband and a father, a doctor or teacher or scientist or author of books or a combination of all those occupations. I became an airman, husband and father and a law-enforcement officer (in that order) but none of the other dreams ever came true. Because of those failures this is my plaint, as was Marlon Brando’s in “On the Waterfront”:

I could’uh been uh contenduh!

In all seriousness, I believe I could have been a contender had I been born into a family somewhat higher on the economic scale. We were so far down on that scale that my mother often said, “We don’t have a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of.” Yep, she said that and said it often, and she exaggerated only slightly.

She divorced her first husband (my father) shortly before I was born. Yes, I know that being born out of wedlock makes me (technically) a little bastard, but I can live with that—some feel that since then I have earned the right to that term. When I was nine years old and in the fourth grade, my mother remarried. Her new husband, not anxious to shoulder the responsibilities and economics of raising two kids, dumped me and my sister (18 months older than I) on relatives. During the next seven years I was relegated to an older sister, an older brother and a first-cousin, and as you will learn in this posting, given the opportunity to be relegated to someone outside the family, someone with absolutely no connection to my family. My sister suffered similar treatment, although banished to other pastures—we were never foisted off to the same people—apparently two kids were one too many for others to handle.

I abandoned my formal education just short of finishing the tenth grade, but over the years that followed I managed to earn a BA degree in American history (Nebraska) and a BS degree in Criminal Justice (Texas). This was over a period of 22 years of study, including on-campus study at five different universities, at home and abroad. Also during that period I worked full-time and assisted my wife in maintaining a home and raising three children.

But I have digressed—back to my contention that “I could’uh been a contenduh!”

At the princely age of eleven, when I was in the second semester of the seventh grade, I was offered a path out of the poverty in which I was mired. Early one morning as I entered my home room, the teacher ordered me to report to the principal’s office. With that order every part of me puckered-up—the principal normally waited until two boys got into trouble and then had both sent to his office. He had a wooden paddle, a formidable weapon that was used on the buttocks of male miscreants. The principal did not wield the item himself—he favored a system called “swapping licks.”

The system involved one wrong-doer whacking the other across the buttocks, then submitting to the same punishment by the one he had just whacked—tit for tat, so to speak. The boys were allowed to decide which one administered the first blow. If the principal felt that either or both of the whacks lacked the proper force, he would order one or both to be repeated—that was rarely necessary. (Note: In those days, long ago and far away in a different kingdom, grades seven and eight were termed “junior high,” and grades nine through twelve were “high school.” The six grades were combined in a series of campus buildings and one official, the “high school principal,” held complete sway over the whole.

I was sent to the principal’s office only one time, early in the first semester of the seventh grade, and I must confess that I don’t remember the nature of my transgression—apparently the ravages of time have deleted it, but it was something to be remembered. Of the two boys that faced the principal that day, one was five feet tall and weighed somewhere around 100 pounds—that one was me. The other was Hugh, six feet tall and well over two-hundred pounds, a first-string lineman for the school’s football team—his name was Hugh but everyone called him “huge.”

Infused with the belief that I wouldn’t be able to whack anybody after I received a blow from Hugh, I insisted on giving the first whack. I held back very little, but Hugh made no sound when the paddle landed, although he did rub his backside a bit immediately afterward. I made a concentrated effort by will of mind to tighten up everything I had in that area, hoping to force some muscle into the soft flesh in order to better absorb the blow. What followed was a mystery to me, but it was a mystery that would soon be revealed. While Hugh was warming up to retaliate, the principal said to him, in a tone that left no doubt as to his meaning, something on the order of “Gently, Hugh—make sure you are very gentle.”

I had no way of knowing then that the principal had plans for me—I was soon to learn that he wanted to adopt me, so he was probably reluctant to take on damaged goods. Hugh was more than “very gentle.” He tapped me across the buttocks so gently that, had it not been for the sound of the paddle landing I wouldn’t have known I had been hit—phew! What a relief!

I fully expected that two people would be in the office when I arrived—the principal and another wayward boy. I was right, but the two people were the principal and my mother.

Here I must again digress:

The high school principal was known to be a wealthy man. He owned and lived in one of the finest antebellum homes in town, and owned or had substantial interests in local businesses. I mention this only to stress that the reason my mother was there was to give her youngest son the opportunity to be adopted by the principal and raised as his son. Well, I suppose she had another reason, namely the possibility of relinquishing her responsibilities of raising me to another person. I have no problem with that—I accepted her reasoning then and I accept it now.

It was also known that the principal was the father of two girls (I was well aware of that). He had not been blessed with any boys, and had always wished for a boy he could bond with as a father, one that could then carry on his family name (I was not aware of that). His wish was never granted, and he was therefore willing to adopt a boy for those reasons. My mother was willing to authorize the adoption—nay, she appeared to be quite enthusiastic about it—but she made it clear that the decision was ultimately up to me.

And here I must digress from my digression:

The principal’s daughters were very popular and very pretty—not just pretty—they were gorgeous. The ninth grader was a brunette and the younger, a perky blond (whatever “perky” means), was in the eighth grade. In my admittedly untrained and immature opinion, both girls were beautiful and fully worthy of becoming my sisters. In fact—and you may call this vanity if you like—I have reason to believe that they possibly were urging their father on, perhaps even begging him, in his quest to adopt me. Hey, don’t laugh—I was a cutie back then!

Both girls were active in school activities, including band and cheer-leading and as all know, rightly or wrongly, there are no homely cheerleaders. Had the two girls—or just one of them—either one—been present at my meeting with my mother and the principal, I suspect that the outcome may have been very different.

I had three sisters in my family, all of varying mental and physical characteristics. The two older sisters were married and the younger, the one that was passed as I was from one relative to another in her early years, while bright and likable in many respects would never have won any beauty contests, neither first place nor first runner-up. She has since passed on, almost two decades ago, to a place where everyone is equal and there are no runner-up positions—no matter the nature of the contest, all are judged first-place winners.

Okay, that should be the final digression.

The principal briefed me on what he had in mind. He wanted to adopt me and raise me as his son, with the promise to guide me and support me in my quest for learning. Evidently my performance in the first semester of the seventh grade had impressed him—and that’s another story, well worthy of its own blog posting. Stay tuned.

I learned that my surname would be changed to his family name, and everything was downhill from that point. My stepfather had wanted me to change my name to his, but I refused because I did not want other kids making jokes such as, “Hey, there’s Weathers—how’s the weather gonna be tomorrow?” etc., etc. Had I accepted the adoption my new name would have garnered jokes such as, “Hi, Farmer, what are you growing now?” and “Hey, Farmer, be sure you spread enough fertilizer.” The word “fertilizer” would, of course, be replaced by one or another of less savory words.

The surname I was given at birth was bad enough—it generated questions such as, “Hey, Dyer, what are you dyeing? Your clothes? Your hair?” and “If you’re a Dyer are you dead? How long will it take you to die?” ad nauseam. Over the past 13 years I had learned to live with the die jokes (heh, heh, heh), but I was reluctant to voluntarily provide hecklers with a fresh repertoire.

Actually, the proposed name change was a minor factor (pun unintentional). I rejected the “adoption option” because I was a rather independent 13-year old lad. I had already survived several changes in life and locations in the past three years, and I was prescient enough to believe that other, perhaps greater, life changes and locations loomed in my future (I was right—boy, was I ever right!).

I felt that my independence would be severely hampered, and any inclination I may have had to accept the adoption was severely tempered by the memories of, and the presence of, the wooden paddle the principal kept in a desk drawer. I speculated as to whether he took it home with him each night, or perhaps kept one or more similar items in his home.

I also was aware of the story that he had recently become so irate at one boy that he slapped him and punched him in the eye—gave him a really significant shiner and dispelled him—that was the boy’s story and most students believed him. The kid with the black eye said he was ordered to submit to the paddling procedure and when he refused to submit, the principal lost his temper. I worked with that ex-student for a time as a drive-in restaurant car-hop, and heard him tell his story many times—he never deviated from the salient parts of the incident, and I believed him.


So, in a nutshell as some say, in order to wrap this posting up, I have always felt that “I could’uh been uh contenduh!” had I accepted the offer of adoption. Rather than 22 years of combining work and family with my quest for learning, I could have and perhaps would have been educated at the finest schools in the nation for a career in law or medicine or business or mathematics—oops, scratch the mathematics—or perhaps a career in politics, one that theoretically at least, could have catapulted me into the highest office in the land. Speaking frankly (and comparatively), given the nature of current events and the recent past, I could have done a more stellar job in that office than the present occupant.

That’s it. I could have been a contender for things that were denied me because of my economic status, but I have no regrets. I am completely satisfied with my contributions to society and to my country, and with their contributions to me.


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Thoughts on adultery . . .

In the interests of full disclosure, I must stress the fact that I’m never wrong—about anything. I thought I was wrong recently, but I later learned that I was right. I was chastised by a blogger for misspelling “adultery.” I was told that the correct spelling is “adultry.” I don’t spell by rote—I spell by instinct. That statement is copyrighted, but all are free to use it. Check out this definition of adultery at: It’s worth the read.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

“Adultery” is referred to as extramarital sex, philandery, or infidelity, but does not include fornication (Italics are mine). The term “adultery” for many people carries a moral or religious association, while the term “extramarital sex” is morally or judgmentally neutral.”

Say whut??!!

I’ve read that definition humpteen times, so to speak, and I still don’t understand it.

Adultery does not include fornication?

Wikipedia defines fornication separately as “consensual sexual intercourse between persons not married to each other.”

If this is true, that in the context of Wikipedia’s definition of adultery that fornication is not adultery and given the time-worn adage that the thought is as bad as the deed—or as good, perhaps, but not likely—one may as well do it. Perhaps most of us will deny it, but most of us are guilty of such thoughts, even the illustrious among us. Jimmie Carter, for example, a former president of the United States and married to the same woman for more than sixty years, was quoted in his interview for an article published in Playboy magazine as saying that he lusts in his heart. Perhaps, as Jimmie Carter goes so goes the nation, but perhaps not. I wager that very few of us would be as honest as Jimmie Carter was in his statement to Playboy, but I could be wrong—I can only speak for myself.

Permit me to quote (and corrupt) a stanza from a poem by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832):

“Breathes there a man with soul so dead
that never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!”

If you are wondering about the pertinence of the above quote, trust me—it’s pertinent. In today’s society when we, whether male or female, are faced with a physically attractive person of the opposite sex we tend to voice, albeit soundlessly, the following thought to replace the third line of Sir Walter Scott’s poem as follows:

“Oh, boy! I’d like to . . . . . .”

The possible variations of substitutions for the third line are infinite—one is bound only by one’s imagination.

Of course Sir Walter is referring to a man’s fealty (fidelity) to his native land. He probably never considered the possibility that his words might, some two centuries after his death, open a wide window of opportunity to the feckless (and reckless) among the world’s population.

Special note: In compliance with our Equal Opportunity laws and in fairness to the fairer sex (females), it must be noted that the corruption of this stanza in Sir Walter’s poem requires replacing the words “man” and “himself” by the words “woman” and “herself.”

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Postscript: I returned to this post today, February 14, 2011 (Valentine’s Day—ain’t that a hoot!) intending to bring it up to date with a reposting, and in researching Wikipedia I found that the above sentence,  “Adultery” is referred to as extramarital sex, philandery, or infidelity, but does not include fornication. The term “adultery” for many people carries a moral or religious association, while the term “extramarital sex” is morally or judgmentally neutral, has been removed from Wikipedia’s definition of adultery. Apparently someone, perhaps an alert reader of the original posting, challenged that definition and called Wikipedia’s attention to that clause.

So listen up, everyone, and be forewarned—adultery does include fornication!


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Some thoughts on the mad cow scare . . .

I retrieved these thoughts from an e-mail I received “back when,” and I felt they might be of interest to viewers.

Think about these three things:

Cows, the Constitution and the Ten Commandments


Isn’t it amazing that during the mad cow epidemic our government could track a single cow, born in Canada almost three years earlier, right to the stall where she slept in the state of Washington?

And they even tracked her calves to their stalls.

But they are unable to locate eleven million illegal aliens wandering around our country.

Maybe we should give each illegal alien a cow.


Our government drafted a constitution for Iraq.

Why didn’t we just give them ours?

It was written by a lot of really smart guys, and it has worked for over 200 years.

It’s available, because we don’t use it anymore.


This is the real reason we can’t post the Ten Commandments in a court house:

You cannot post Thou Shalt Not Steal, Thou Shalt Not lie, and Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery in a building filled with lawyers, judges and politicians.

It creates a hostile work environment.

Now think about this:

If you don’t want to pass this on for fear 0f offending someone, then you are part of the problem.

It’s time for America to speak up!

Yep, I passed it on!

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Posted by on January 10, 2010 in politics


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A surgical solution to illegal immigration . . .

Our land border with Mexico cannot be closed.

The military could link hands from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California and the line would not slow the illegal entries. They will go under, over, through or around any barrier constructed, living or otherwise, by land, sea and air, and through tunnels.

Anyone who has lived or worked on the border for any significant length of time knows the border cannot be closed. I worked on the Texas-Mexico border for 12 years, with extended assignments at three land border ports as a Customs inspector trainee, journeyman and supervisor, and in a three-year stint at Customs Headquarters I covered every port on the Mexican border (also most international airports, seaports and land crossings on our border with Canada).

I know the border cannot be closed.

Bill O’Reilly at Fox News believes the border can be closed. He’s wrong—the border cannot be closed (he hasn’t asked me about this, but I would be glad to brief him).

I began my 26-year career with the United States Customs Service at the international border crossing in Progreso, a small town in the Rio Grande Valley a few miles south of Weslaco, Texas. The port director at Progreso had, in my opinion, a sure-fire way to dry up the flood of illegal immigrants—such persons have historically been called wet-backs, a highly descriptive term that has fallen prey to the current atmosphere of political correctness. I plan to discuss the term in a subsequent posting.

The then-port director at Progreso suggested that, regardless of nationality or country of origin, one finger be removed from the illegal immigrant the first time he (or she) is intercepted, then return him (or her) to Mexico, and remove another finger if that person is again intercepted entering our country illegally. If adopted, his suggestion would result in numerous nine-fingered illegals, significantly fewer eight-fingered, and virtually none with only seven fingers.

My only suggestion to his plan at that time was to remove the middle finger of one hand for the first offense and the middle finger of the other hand for the second offense, then another finger for the next illegal crossing, etc., etc. My rationale for that sequence was, of course, intended to prevent the offender from flipping the bird at any US federal officer in any future encounter. This led to the development of Operation FRET (Finger Removal Each Time).

I have since fleshed out my plan to control unauthorized immigration, and have also developed a plan to prevent members of Congress from growing old and rich in the “service” of their country. To that end I offer the following concepts: Operation FRET to control illegal immigration, and Operation OFFER to clear out some, perhaps most, of the deadwood in our Senate and our House of Representatives. Operation OFFER, over time, might even clear out all the deadwood and ensure that none of it reappears in Congress.

Operation FRET (Finger Removal Each Time) should not be confused with the acronym for fluorescence resonance energy transfer, a condition related to fluorescent lighting. Operation FRET is my term for a system that, if properly applied, could staunch the flow of unauthorized entries across our national borders. The system is suggested to control entries from Mexico, but to avoid any semblance of bias it should probably be instituted along our northern border as well, and for consistency the system must apply to illegal entries at any point in the nation, whether by land, sea or air.

Operation OFFER (One Finger For Each Re-election) is recommended initially for elections to our Senate and our House of Representatives, but the concept can be applied effectively to lesser elections, ranging from local school boards up to gubernatorial races. I would oppose any suggestion to make Operation OFFEE retroactive for sitting electees—now that would really be cruel!

I would also oppose any suggestion to extend Operation OFFEE to the highest elected office in the land—that worthy needs more fingers, not fewer, to accomplish his complex duties and responsibilities. Besides, any hint of such a suggestion, whether satire or otherwise, would bring down on the suggester the accumulative weight and heat of every national, state and local law enforcement agency.

A fellow blogger made these comments on my suggestion concerning digit removals for illegal immigrants, and his comments inspired me to develop Operation OFFER:

I think your immigration penalty may be a tad cruel.

Could we, however, use it for membership in Congress?

Yes, we can! (I must admit that I pilfered that slogan from the 2008 presidential campaign). If the OFFER concept (One Finger Removal Each Re-election) became law, it’s doubtful that we would ever have more than a handful (so to speak) of nine-fingered senators or representatives, even fewer with only eight fingers and probably none with three fingers missing. I assume the writer meant to remove one finger on the initial election to Congress, whether to the Senate or to the House of Representatives, and the second on the first re-election, etc. And I also assume the same sequence (middle fingers first) would apply to the members of Congress. However, I feel that the system should apply to re-elections only. Under Operation FRET, the illegal immigrant has broken federal law, while the first term electee to Congress has broken no laws. Operation OFFER would ensure that no senator or representative would serve more than one term unless, of course, they would be willing to sacrifice a digit in order to remain on the federal dole and continue feathering their nest—not likely, that.

It is doubtful that the law could be made retroactive, principally because many of the senators and representatives would be minus all fingers as well as both thumbs. And there is actually the possibility, albeit it very remote, that reelections to the Senate and the House of Representatives would be eliminated—one can only dream.

I would oppose any suggestion to make Operation OFFER retroactive for sitting electees—now that would really be cruel! I would also oppose any suggestion to extend Operation OFFER to the highest elected office in the land—that worthy needs more fingers, not fewer, to accomplish his complex duties and responsibilities. And any such suggestion, whether satire or otherwise,  would bring down on the suggester the accumulative weight and heat of every national, state and local law enforcement agency in the nation.

A special note for anyone who peruses (reads) this posting and believes it, or is repulsed by it, or considers it cruel and un-American:

Hey, lighten up!

This is satire and nothing more—no investigation by the AFRC (Anti-Finger-Removal Czar) is needed, nor do we need a BOLO for international border crossers with fingers missing from either hand, specifically middle fingers.

Our newspapers, novels, movies and television presentations are saturated with crime reports, either true or fictional, so everyone should know the meaning of BOLO. However, this explanation is provided for the edification (enlightenment) of the three persons (estimated) in our population of 330 million (estimated) that do not know:

BOLO is an acronym for Be On Look Out (for). Don’t you just abhor (hate) it when someone uses a word, whether verbal (spoken) or written, then immediately defines (explains) it in the belief that the reader lacks eruditeness (having great knowledge) and won’t know the word’s meaning?

I also hate it when someone does that, whether speaking or writing.

I completely understand, and I feel your pain.

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Posted by on January 10, 2010 in Humor, law enforcement, politics


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The way it was—then and now . . .

From Wikipedia,

Edgar Albert Guest (August 20, 1881, Birmingham, England – August 5, 1959, Detroit, Michigan) (aka Eddie Guest) was a prolific American poet who was popular in the first half of the 20th Century and became known as the People’s Poet.

The poet authored 25 books from 1920 to 1927. In the interests of full disclosure, I confess that whenever I want to express my feelings and my words fail me, regardless of the subject, I will cheerfully and respectfully, without hesitation or remorse, use the words of another to convey my thoughts, with due credit being given, of course, to the other person.

Edgar Guest authored 25 books from 1920 to 1927. The poem which follows is from his All That Matters, published in 1922. I find it amazing that some 87 years ago someone could express so eloquently how we feel about our children and how proud we are of them. This posting is an effort to let our three daughters know how much we love them and how proud we are of them and their families. And perhaps any parent or parents that view the posting may choose to allow Edgar Guest to speak for them. The image below faced the  poem—it’s reproduced from a painting by Robert E. Johnston—this is the then part of the above title.


Once the house was lovely, but it’s lonely here today,
For time has come an’ stained its walls an’ called the young away;
An’ all that’s left for mother an’ for me till life is through,
Is to sit an’ tell each other what the children used to do.

We couldn’t keep ‘em always an’ we knew it from the start;
We knew when they were babies that some day we’d have to part.
But the years go by so swiftly, an’ the littlest one has flown,
An there’s only me an’ mother now left here to live alone.

Oh, there’s just one consolation, as we’re sittin’ here at night,
They’ve grown to men an’ women, an’ we brought ‘em up all right;
We’ve watched ‘em as we’ve loved ‘em an’ they’re splendid, every one,
An’ we feel the Lord won’t blame us for the way our work was done.

They’re clean, an’ kind an’ honest, an’ the world respects ‘em, too;
That’s the dream of parents always, an’ our dreams have all come true.
So although the house is lonely an’ sometimes our eyes grow wet,
We are proud of them an’ happy an’ we’ve nothing to regret.

And this is the now part of the title— it’s a recent photo of our children’s parents, and is included to show viewers how little—or perhaps how much, depending on the viewer—we resemble the parents in Edgar Guest’s poem.

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Posted by on January 10, 2010 in Family


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