Monday, November 22, 2010

GETTING WEANED

"Nice day to be out on the road with your rig," observed Mr. McCarrow, the owner of the facility from which we had purchased our trailer.

"I agree with that", observed Betty. "It sounds better than sitting here in the showroom."

"Why don't you take the pickup camper out front for a trial run?" he suggested. "It's gassed up and ready to go."

"We're not interested in that type of vehicle," I volunteered.

"Why not try it anyway?" he persisted. "At your age you don't want to keep monkeying with torsion bars and the other stuff associated with pulling a trailer," he reminded me.

"Okay." I conceded. "It's better than waiting in here." Reaching for the keys, I led Betty to the indicated vehicle.

Her first indication that it would be unsuitable was the high steps to get into the cab. "Let me give you a hand," I offered. After boosting her up, I got behind the wheel.

"Let's take the circle around Eagle and Curriers," was my choice. The road offered a variety of pavement.

"It surely seems top-heavy," I observed as it made the corner, leaning heavily to the outside

"Let's see what it has to offer inside," Betty urged.

Pulling it off the road, we climbed down to view it from the rear. It looked like a big box perched in the bed of the truck. The rear door was reached by a short ladder leaned against the back bumper. No handholds were available to reassure the fainthearted.

We climbed in and found the accommodations limited. The small table was flanked by a sink and gas stove arrangement. The bed was suspended from the roof with exactly the minimum headroom for the average person. The area for food was limited judging by the size of the tiny refrigerator. Very little space was available for clothing or personal items. The toilet area was too tight for comfort or privacy.

Vehicle expenses were about twice what we had expected. Instead of reducing our cost, all parts of it seemed to grow. Instead of economy we could expect significant repair outlay in the near future.

Looking at Betty's assessment, I asked the question: "Do you think we are ready for a change of vehicle?"

Her answer was forthright: "Yes. I think the time is now. But this isn't what we are looking for."

"Then let's start searching for the right unit," was my response as we found at last that we were getting weaned from a trailer.

Monday, November 8, 2010

VOICES FROM THE PAST

The sound of the human voice can instantly evoke memories of both a person or event in the past. The "magic" has the power to bring back moments so poignant that we can thrill again and again as we listen to the words and tones of voices not now available to us or forever stilled. Do not squander these priceless gems that can be so easily destroyed

Do not equate these to recordings of simply words. The words spoken can again be reproduced but without the many inflections that are imbedded in their delivery. The meaning can actually be reversed by a different tone of voice or the emphasis lent to the words used. The actual words spoken or written are not alone the key message. Words are important but are not the entire sense.

Let us take some specific quotations from the recent campaigns. The speaker makes a statement that is quoted verbatim by his opponent. But the impression given is that the responder gives the same message. Not so! The hearer of the second repetition can receive the opposite or altered version, not because the words are different, but because the other factors have changed. They are not constant.

Why do I think we have been living at a remarkable time that has now been so practically closed to us? The few decades past have been devoted to the use of tape recorders with the messages recorded as spoken. There have been changes or improvements in the recording of the human voice during that span of time. One major change has been the switch from the open reel type to the more common type of cassette form. All of this has occurred without essentially altering the fidelity of the message. You can hear what was spoken with all the attendant nuances that were present. It comes through with these attributes that are present in normal speaking.

Of course it can altered. However it is far less likely to be affected than competitive media. The voice of the speaker tends to guarantee that what you hear is what was said. My personal opinion leans in the direction of giving greater credence to a taped message than to the other alternatives.

Monday, November 1, 2010

STRUCK BY LIGHTNING

The sharp crack of thunder made our tent vibrate.

"My! But that was close," remarked my father. "I think it hit something close by."

"Why don't you look out and see?" suggested mother.

We were camped at Lime Lake at the edge of Machias. To me it seemed like an ideal place for a four-year-old boy to have fun. At the end of a short walk to the beach were swings, a slide and the equivalent of "monkey bars". Rowboats were for rent and of course swimming was a prime attraction. Angling for fish added an
attractive option too. The lake was about a mile and a half long and a half-mile wide. A wooded grove provided ideal tent sites.

The roller skating rink was housed in a wooden building suitable for an auditorium. o part of the premises was a house that could be used as the base for providing meals. The chance to rent the property was made with the hope that this trial use would prove a fixed location for camp meeting. Up to this point in time no permanent place was used. Each year a fresh site had to be cleared for the temporary tent tabernacle and eating facilities. The rink would provide dry covered shelter for the services. Much discussion had centered around the pros and cons of the purchase.

Father pulled back the flap and peered into the murky dusk before stepping out to check on the sound. I was peering excited from between his legs to see what had happened. To my four-year-old mind something unusual had occurred. The site of the tent next door looked the same as it had looked before.

"Mother, keep Arnold here while I check on this" warned father.

He hurried out and soon other men began arriving. It seemed like a long time before he returned to report to mother, "Brother Fairbanks was struck by lightning. I'm going to call for help."

My curiosity brought all manner of thoughts to my head. "What was the meaning of 'struck by lightning?' Was the preacher dead, whatever that might mean?" I liked the friendly man who always took time to speak to me. As I waited impatiently, my alarm increased.

After what seemed a long wait, father reappeared with a man who carried a black Bag. They went into the next tent and took a long time. When father returned he confided to mother, "Brother Fairbanks was hit by lightning. He is conscious and will be taken to the hospital. He has difficulty speaking and shows other symptoms of shock. The doctor believes he will likely recover." I relaxed. That sounded like good news to me.

This occurrence was the topic of choice for the remainder of the camp.

The negatives came quickly. "This is a very dangerous place." "God isn't in favor of this wicked place in which to worship Him." "The young people will be led astray by the influence of businesses nearby that are open on Sunday." "The very presence of worldly activities nearby will divert attention from spiritual matters." "The money to maintain the facilities can better be used for missionary purposes."

So the decision to pass up this opportunity was made. The great depression made it appear to be a poor time to incur debt. The cost of maintaining buildings to be used only ten days a year seemed excessive.

About a decade was permitted to pass before it was again considered to be feasible to seek a permanent site for camp meeting. By that time the bargain had been snatched up by Odasegah Bible Conference. They continue to use it to this present day.

Monday, October 25, 2010

SPRING MEMORIES

The blossoming at Cedar Forest began late in January, as the first to show bloom was always the lemon yellow of the witch hazel. The unique flowers of this shrub were a reminder that winter eventually would start to recede gradually as the days begin to lengthen. It signaled: Time to start watching.

The surprises that February had ready for us varied by the snow and chilliness of the weather. The cheery faces of the varied colors of primroses, sometimes staring from a snowy blanket on which they seemed embroidered, were unfazed by the cool reception. They seemed jubilant to announce the coming of spring. The catkins of the pussy willows were eager to affirm the announcement.

At the edge of the cedars the cherry trees fat buds swelled and burst forth with their amazing pink display. Each tree had a different hue to add to the colorful array. One spread its limbs like a huge pink umbrella.

The display of the trillium varied from single stems at the base of trees to clusters that made an area a delight to view. The several masses of the white flowers that I had removed at Carrie Silva's request responded to replanting. How rewarding it was to be able to find each appearing where they were located previously.

The pink and white bells of the heather started to chime spring. A hardy shrub, it increased annually and always looked green no matter the season. It shrugged off the cold weather.

Begonia formed a neat border for the drive and obliged with pink blooms beneath the green leaves. At the halfway point in the driveway one rhododendron is flanked by two camellia bushes, one white and the other pink. I recall how it attracts deer to the juicy buds just as they are about to open. Just in advance of this happening, I remember anointing the bush with a special concoction with the suggestive name, "Not Tonight, Deer". It makes a bitter taste that keeps the deer from nibbling the attractive morsels.

Around the perimeter of the triangle south of the spruce grove the golden daffodils spread their cheer, some of them single and others with double blooms.
Later in the season a succession of colored lilies replace them. At the peak of the high knoll in the upper garden a five-foot tall lily with multiple flowers will also take its dominant place.

The rustic rail fence surrounding the road edge at the front will herald the beginning of iris season with its array of Siberian blue. Next comes the wave of vibrant pink candles that starts anywhere it is given a chance. But how it sets off the various clumps of daylilies spiced up the rail edge with their individual hues. Behind the rail fence and overlooking the rest rise the exotic bird-like shapes of the crocosmia. Its stems, holding the blooms above its neighbors, add a multi-tier effect to the entire display of gorgeous bloom.

In a very moist place beside the private road a place was found for the yellow iris,
an especially neat specimen. It proved to be an ideal setting. Likewise the ten-foot remains of an old cedar was exactly the right setting for the orange clusters of the trumpet vine. Appearing as summer approached, it seemed jubilant to announce the changing season.

The line along the back fence proved to be a place for the redbud and dogwood trees. The redbud put forth its blooms before it showed green leaves. The fence provided a useful support for the dinner-plate blooms of clematis which also adorned the porch. Near the rear gate entrance an impressive stand of foxglove found a likely location. And lupine's blue or other shades added a dash of color.

Oriental poppies made the roadside bank an accent point among Shasta daisies. Likewise the floral tributes of both the star magnolia as well as its neighbor lent to the scene a touch of grandeur. Among such a show of beauty the beds of Japanese and other iris seemed in proper place. The native bleeding heart felt right at home in this setting.

To such a display of sight for the eyes, the consummate touch of rhododendron and azalea, large and small, was the climax. The span in size and blooming time along the drive and bordering the road provided a finished appearance. Our efforts have given us both a sense of accomplishment as we have cooperated with our Creator.

Monday, October 18, 2010

OUR FADING HERITAGE

This strange hybrid hymnal that currently occupies the racks on the backs of our pews fails to convey the heritage of Free Methodist singing over the decades. For many years a difference was recognized between hymns and gospel songs.
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Along with the Free Methodist Hymnal appeared a succession of denominational song books. Some of these may rouse fond memories: Light & Life Songs 1904; Light & Life Songs No. 2 1914; Light & Life Songs No.3 1918; Inspirational Songs 1924; Worship In Song 1935; Choice Light & Life Songs 1950. And the last genuine FM hymnal: Hymns of Faith & Life 1976.
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Next to the Bible itself, many Christians have found the hymns and songs to be a source of inspiration, comfort, and instruction in righteousness and a basis for meditation. I am concerned lest this rich heritage be lost by the current and future generations.
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One way in which this is happening is the use of only a verse or two of a hymn, often failing to recognize an important sequence of thought. "Let's sing the first and last verse" or "the first second and last verses" is a frequent event. In many songs the third verse carries key meanings.
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In one service where I was involved we concentrated on singing only third verses, thus trying to even out the wear. A quiz in which people were given a quotation from third verses of familiar hymns and were asked to identify the hymn revealed ignorance.
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Why is it that we have time to repeat almost endlessly a few simple words of a chorus but lack time to sing a hymn in its entirety?
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Yes, I do hark back to the days when hymns were sung or played - now they are DONE. This is a term that seems to focus attention on the performer - not on the message.

Monday, October 11, 2010

THANKS FOR MY CPU

(Central Processing Unit - Essential device of computer for organizing data)

I awoke this morning thankful for my active CPU, my memory that enables me to function as a person. While limited in certain areas, such as foot manipulation, I still can go anywhere in the world that my mind remembers. And this permits me to do so instantly. All of the modern advances in technology can't surpass this phenomenon of leaping from Warm Beach to multiple locales on this globe or to outer space instantly at the flick of an idea.

I do not accept this gift lightly. Some of my friends are unable to escape from the immediate environment to enjoy the wealth of past experiences or the thrill of new possibilities. They seem locked into a narrow round of past reality that does not permit them to tap the spectrum of all that is available.

This morning I enjoy conversing with my wife who shares with me over sixty-five years of mutual memories. Being able to reach back in time and space brings a world of places and people at our disposal. The possibilities are so limitless that I can draw from them in detail. The swing through the air on that small Ferris wheel on our first date comes to mind. The music of the band and the voices that mingled in the background were important details. The smiles of delight on Betty's countenance were memorable.

All is not happiness as the recollection of our pets rings in. Our only dog was a sheep dog that abandoned herding the flock passing by our house and chose to adopt our family. His muzzle out the window of the car as I drove reminded us of his eagerness to ride the tail of my snowshoes. His bravado at chasing a car cut short his life. The sight of his lifeless body is etched deeply in my consciousness. But we made the choice to call up memories of his leading the family up the trail.

Recalling the faces of the many students over the years affords me a broad spectrum. While I would like to know all of the outcomes, those whom I know so well bring me a sense of accomplishment - theirs in particular. The result in a variety of their endeavors brings a glow of satisfaction as I recall their struggles.

But you would be likely to point out that these are memories, the storage of facts from the past. My response would be that the longer you live, the larger in size the CPU becomes. And yet, what a scope of possibilities becomes apparent. I'd like to explore a number of these.

My desire to see mountains has been fostered by my past experiences. Mt. Rainier, Mt. McKinley, Mt. Cook and Miter Peak were great experiences for me. But to "see" the Alps, Mt. Everest, Mt. Kilimanjaro and other notable mountains is at my fingertips from a variety of sources such as films, pictures and the writings of various persons who have seen and can transmit their viewing graphically. They are just a flick of the monitor away.

If I fail to get to speak with Bill Gates about a problem with Microsoft's Windows program, there are literally thousands of persons who would be able to help me. The availability of assistance for me is nearly unlimited. My expert is no farther away than my elbow.

The activities at Warm Beach Manor are there to suit the taste of almost everyone. What about model trains? They are lined up to go with the gauge to suit a variety of demands from the miniature and on up. They can whistle, belch smoke and sound realistically like the real thing, To help make the whole scene come alive are those with railroad experience who are eager talk about this their passion. Those with a photographic bent are eager to share their expertise. Others who have a favorite hobby or interest are willing to share.

For the readers and writers, the opportunities are endless. But I must go lest I get excited about the world awaiting my fingers to unlock the riches waiting for me at the touch of the CPU.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

TOUGH NUT TO CRACK

One of the trees fast disappearing from the Western New York landscape is the butternut. While its appearance is similar to that of the black walnut, it bears fruit that is uniquely different. It will be my purpose to give credit to this tasty treat and leave the technical description and scope of the tree to those equipped to do so. My wife, a botanist, would do a more thorough and accurate job of describing the
scope and range of this tree than I would be capable of doing.

My familiarity with and appreciation of its qualities dates back almost ninety years
to my boyhood in Brooklyn Valley adjacent to East Otto, New York. The tree on which the clusters grow is not of large proportions nor are its leaves expansive to produce shade. Seldom is it located as a grove of trees,

My interest in it took place about the fall season when the nuts had formed. Growing in clusters about the branches, they gradually developed the meaty center. The main concern was to beat the squirrels to the harvest. Once the clusters were ripe enough, the furry acrobats would loosen and let most of them fall to the ground. Then the squirrels would hasten to gather them to store. The window of opportunity was a rather short period ere the nuts were gathered to their respective hiding spots.

The Pratt's hired man was always knowledgeable about matters relating to the out of doors. He was aware of where things grew best but kept the exact places to himself. It was so about the butternut trees and their yield. He often came by the parsonage to share a portion of what he had acquired. It thus was the case of having his sack of the largest nuts, but was careful to not reveal their exact location.

My good friend, Donald Sprowl, was as eager as I to get to the bounty ahead of the squirrels. We would scout the woods as harvest time drew near, seeking out the most prolific trees to garner. This made a good excuse to be in the woods in the autumn. When we found a tree loaded with the nuts, we would try to devise a way to loosen them so would fall to the ground. Usually a ladder would be too far from the woods to be practical. Instead we used sticks and rocks for the task.
Flying sticks and stones were an ever-present danger in spite of our caution.

Toting the gathered loot back to the farm was an onerous job. The burlap sacks were heavy and on occasion made a second trip necessary. Upon reaching there, we had to locate a safe place for them to cure, as the green nuts would mould unless spread out to dry. The loft in the granary proved to be ideal for that purpose as well as being safe from marauding squirrels. A fine steel wire cage made it relatively safe from the varmints. There the husks dried until they could be removed for shelling.

When Donald 's mother and grandmother gave the signal it was time for the nuts to be used, we hauled out the cracking table. This was a gadget made from two by fours with an old discarded laundry iron attached to the top. In the indentation on top of the iron where the handle had been attached, the indentation made a spot to place the nut to be cracked. A sharp blow with a hammer created either a revealed nut kernel or a squashed nut to be pried out. This took place out in the woodshed where the flying nut shucks could do no harm.

Don and I took turns with the hammer, vying to see who could extract a whole or a half kernel intact. The crushed specimens had to be picked out with a nut pick to rescue the remainder. The shucks flew in every direction. It took some time to accumulate a satisfactory supply for baking. It was no wonder that the delicacies provided were so seldom available.

The baking of a delicious butternut cake replete with real maple sugar frosting with butternuts starring the surface was an event. At the farewell gathering for our family at the Pratt homestead no finer tribute could be offered than to celebrate the occasion with such a lavish display of baking art. To render praise and thanks for my parents' service with a butternut cake was the ultimate baking
tribute. It truly was a tough nut to crack.

Monday, September 27, 2010

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Having just returned from our honeymoon, Betty and I were looking for our first home. World War II was still in progress, making housing in the city of Burlington, Vermont extremely tight. Now we had to come up with a more permanent plan to allow our friends, the Haglunds, to resume their own privacy. As had become our habit, I was scanning the Burlington News for a lead when I came across a brief listing.

"Betty, listen to this," I excitedly called her. "$50 per mo. 3 rooms and bath, furnished and heated apt. Available July 1st", I quoted.

"Let's go look at it at once," was her immediate response.

After a quick call to be certain it was still available. it turned out to be on the first floor of an old house that had been converted into apartments. Knowing how scarce was this find, I made out the rental check. Three days later we were moving in our scanty possessions.

By current standards, the much-used furniture was not exciting but adequate. Betty was eager to display her good housekeeping by cleaning and dusting and even doing the windows. She was most eager to display her skills in the kitchen.

When I arrived home after a day at the office, a delightful aroma greeted me.

"What do I smell?' I wanted to know.

"Come and see," Betty motioned me to the laundry area. "There are thirty-six real cream puffs just out of the oven."

"Whom are we having in tonight?" I inquired.

"Nobody that I know about. Why do you ask"?

"Don't you like cream puffs?" She sounded a bit let down.

"Of course I do," I assured her. "But there are so many," I marveled.

"My brothers and my father would have devoured them gone instantly," was her explanation. This lesson would need to be repeated numerous times before it really took hold. The appetite of an office employee was far less than that of those who worked out of doors on the muckland.

Betty's next surprise startled her. She had received six ration stamps from her mother for meat purchases. At the butcher shop she was greeted with "Here are some beautiful lamb chops. They won't last long here."

Betty didn't take long to make up her mind. "Wrap up six of them. My mother just sent me the month's ration. That's a good deal."

When I arrived home after work, Betty was excited to share this great news with me. It should have excited my gustatory juices.

"But I don't like lamb," was my response.

Betty was on the verge of tears. The whole month's ration of stamps was gone. She would have to eat all of them herself. It turned out to be along month.

The first part of my time in Burlington had included living with Rev. & Mrs. Bates at the Free Methodist parsonage. They were so congenial that my pal from work, Robert Pollock, enjoyed it too, although he was a devout Catholic. When another pastor was selected, he decided to room elsewhere. I made the error of staying with the current church arrangement, as our wedding was nearing. This man was not like Rev. Bates, as we found out by his erratic behavior.

On the first Sunday after Betty's arrival, his treatment of the Bible, the Holy Scriptures, was to hurl it into the congregation. This seemed sacrilegious. His glasses often followed. He had a deep coarse voice that seemed tuned to diatribes. I am sorry to say that I didn't immediately move to a more congenial group, such as Jack Wyrtzen was engaged in. Denominational loyalty should not
be the only criterion in such matters.

On Monday afternoon following the first exposure to the church group, two elderly women came to call on Betty. She was delighted that fresh cookies had just come out of the oven. When she served the women, instead of receiving the commendation expected, she was faced with criticism that baking was taken care of in the morning when it was cooler. Furthermore, the short sleeves of her dress offended their senses of propriety.

The summer offered many opportunities for fun: picnics at Lake Champlain within short drives from home, views of he Adirondacks across the Lake and the Green Mountains to the east, time to become better acquainted than the intermittent trips during war years permitted.

How well do we recall the August evening in 1945 when we were strolling among the students on the University of Vermont Campus. Suddenly there were cheers, shouts and the eruption of fireworks. It was indeed wonderful news that presaged changes in lives. World War II was over.

How our lives would be altered was the question facing us. The military aircraft contracts would be canceled. My job would be terminated soon. Without the Bell plant, hope of future employment seemed doubtful. Our almost instantaneous choice was to return to Albion in Western New York where my father was pastoring the very first Free Methodist Church in the denomination. A final factor was the knowledge that Betty was now pregnant with Bettina, our first child. Two weeks later all of our worldly possessions were loaded in the Lincoln Zephyr. The next phase of our married life was about to begin.

Monday, September 20, 2010

WHAT'S IN A NAME OR TITLE?

The world of academia, like other professional fields, is prone to press heavily on the importance of nomenclature. When arriving in Stanwood after thirty-two years at Houghton College, it was easy to shift to a given name from the title that tended to indicate what one had been accorded in the past. I was no longer referred to as "Professor" Cook but gladly accepted my first or second name as the norm. It was easy to relax to this easing of the title puzzle.

Dealing with the medical community, it remained as normal to address members as Doctor ----. With the multiplicity of individuals new to us, it proved easier than recalling the names which so easily escaped my memory. This ploy neatly avoided the embarrassment of wrong pronunciation of a foreign name or the need to admit to not remembering the name.

But what is proper or expected use by others in ordinary communication? It seems that youth are freer to use first names than is the older population. However this practice seems discourteous to the elder group and lacks the proper respect for age. This seems to be more generally applied to women.

Names are a bit trickier, Let me use my own as an example. My parents selected my first name to honor a good friend who was a student at Cleveland Bible Institute. The name, ARNOLD, in their eyes, was a way of saying, "This is my friend." As I entered school, my name at that point in time, was associated with the Revolutionary Period spy. My parents never realized the embarrassment this term caused me. I spent time wishing I had been given a name that stood for something more admirable. The WILLIS portion was to honor the grandfather who died when my mother was in grade school. There was no reason to doubt its relevance.

How my wife has coped with application of her name is another problem. Her true name is Ethel Elizabeth Park Cook. Being born about the time of Queen Elizabeth of England, her parents wanted the name while at the same time using her mother's first name. Never was she called Ethel. To separate it out, she has instead been called Betty. I use the word Ethel only jokingly. She prefers the word Betsy.

Problems began in school when the New York State Regents in Albany began to record the scores from their examinations. They were trying to coordinate the name of the person who had taken the exam with the certificates on record. They naturally failed to find a Betty Park. It took some time and effort to prove who she actually was and not an imposter.

Later she was denied Social Security benefits for three months. The amount of her Social Security was taken from our checking account while we were in Florida on vacation. The dire warnings of the penalties to be applied to us should our information explaining how the problem occurred were spelled out in detail.

The question still arises when she signs her name E. Elizabeth Cook and those recording it try to insist it should be Elizabeth E. Cook. Whenever she signs to open a bank account or to make a credit card application or to give medical information, it always provokes the same discussion. What a hassle could have been avoided if her mother had been willing to have Ethel listed as Betty's second instead of first name.

What's in a name? Plenty! Selected solution: Only the babies should be given the opportunity to choose their name! Now that is a fresh idea.

Monday, September 13, 2010

MY FIRST HORN

"Mother, did you hear that music? It sounds to me like a trumpet" I ventured.

"It surely does. Let's listen," mother suggested.

The strains of a hymn floated in on the evening air. The melody was clear as a bell as nothing competed with it as electricity hadn't come to our valley.

"It must be Richard Wing," mother suggested. "He'd be home from Chesbrough Seminary about now."

When the sounds died away, I impulsively asked mother: "I want a horn to play like that. Please may I?"

"I think that would cost a lot of money. But I'll suggest it to your father," mother promised.

When father came in from the barn, mother mentioned how nice it would be to have such a musical instrument. But just as she had told me, he blamed the Depression for the lack of funds to buy such a luxury item. While he agreed with the idea, he saw no way to buy one.

As strange as it may seem, it was the economic rigor of the times that floated a dream of realizing my goal. When the next Montgomery Ward catalog arrived in the mail, I was the first to leaf through the "wish book." Just inside the cover I read the words I could scarcely believe: "Young people. Earn free prizes by introducing customers to Ward's products. Send for free kit now!"

Rushing up to mother, I pleaded, "May I send for a kit now?"

She agreed reluctantly, for during the Depression many fraudulent schemes were spawned. She didn't want me to be disappointed. Daily I checked our mailbox. Finally the awaited packet arrived.

Along with all struggling businesses, Montgomery Ward, the catalogue mail order firm, sought new ways to increase sales. Simply stated, their offer was as follows: Any person under eighteen could join the plan and receive order blanks with their name imprinted on them. By encouraging people to place their order on these specially printed blanks, the person whose name was imprinted received a point score for each dollar of goods ordered. Awards in the form of merchandise from their catalog could be earned based on the number of points accumulated. To my great delight, one of these premiums was a trumpet,

Almost immediately I took off on my old bike to cover miles of dusty country roads. Here I encountered surly dogs and the suspicions of some folk who distrusted everyone in those discouraging times. Although very self-conscious and shy, I was driven by this dream of playing the trumpet. My hopes grew as the points started to accumulate. At church conferences and camp meeting gatherings I was on hand with my supply of order blanks. After over a year of these efforts, I had enough points to claim my coveted award - a trumpet that sold for $14.95 in their catalog.

Day after day I hurried home from school and on Saturdays personally met the mailman to see if my trumpet had come. When my faith had almost flickered out, a cardboard box awaited me. I was too excited to shout. With trembling hands I unwrapped the box and lifted the silver-plated horn with its gold bell from the bed of tissue paper in which it was nested.

Placing the shiny trumpet to my lips, I blew. Not a sound came forth. I tried blowing a second time, puffing out my cheeks and squinting my eyes with effort. Instead of a loud note nothing happened.

A dark thought flashed through my mind: "Suppose this wasn't a real trumpet at all! Maybe they had sent me one that wouldn't work." Bitterly I poured out these fears to my father.

His wise response was: "Son, I think there's a bit more to playing one of these than just blowing into it. I'll see what I can find out."

True to his word, father contacted Clyde Bullock, director of the Cattaraugus Town Band. He agreed to give me trumpet lessons once a week after he was through work. Father drove me the twelve miles to Cattaraugus and picked me up again after the half-hour lesson. The price tag for this instruction was $ .25 per lesson. And I did learn to play the trumpet, in subsequent years achieving first chair in the high school band.

Like my idol, Richard Wing, I enjoyed playing my trumpet outdoors. One magic moment stands out. Late one October afternoon I was out in the yard practicing a number for school. The warm sun shining through the autumn haze cast a golden glow over the valley. The notes came clear and true as the melody found its way across the fields and woodlands. Through the corner of my eye I caught a movement in the meadow across the road. Three deer were standing motionless, intently listening. As the last note died away, over the field they bounded, white tails flying like flags until they were lost to sight in the growing dusk. Even in these bleak Depression years, music was no stranger to our rural valley.

Monday, September 6, 2010

HOW TO SAY IT RIGHT

Some thirty years have elapsed since I taught Business Communication at Houghton College. During that time period many innovations have been introduced with the goal in mind of bringing about speedy and accurate transfer of information. E-mail is just one of these modes. How effective are these changes?

To start with, one of the goals is to eliminate unnecessary paper use and thus save the trees. The logic is admirable but its application is flawed. Why does my drug supplier need to send me so many copies of their privacy policy when one will do? The same is true of the banks that repeatedly provide an excess of the same information. The plea is that this is required information mandated by our government to protect us. Why do we have to be reminded so many times?

For a simple device, I find that many instruction booklets are 90% WARNINGS of what constitutes dangerous use and less than one page to the operation of its practical operation. This is often in print too small to read without a magnifying glass. For a more complicated item, this assumes a major exercise in reading to find the significant material that I need to know. Often the fault lies with the lawyers who are charged with protection of their client to cover all possible hazards of real or imagined hazards.

A different approach is to use print too small to be seen by the human eye. This is particularly true on items for the visually impaired. Products of this ilk have tiny bits of important information couched in miniscule sized print. When enlarged by a magnifier, the result may be a blurry type that is less than readable. Often such
occurrences are present on medication bottles for eye drops and the like. Much of this would seldom occur if the question were asked: "Who is going to read this?"

Another puzzle is how many languages should be employed to inform the user. English should normally be basic, but beyond that, how many others are necessary or useful?

When approaching the job of writing for the public, one needs to be first aware of who your likely audience will be and what needs to be conveyed. More or less than that will not be effective.

Monday, August 30, 2010

TO WRITE OR NOT TO WRITE?

May 31, 1987 we were marooned by a flood on the west coast of South Island in New Zealand. The roads were impassable leaving me to just filling the time until we could proceed as scheduled. Then an idea struck me. This day was being commemorated by the New Zealand Postal System in honor of which any first class letter could be mailed for one cent postage to any place in the world. Upon my inquiry, I found the wee post office was just a short distance down the flooded road. I donned my boots and headed there to find that my information was correct for mail posted that day. I bought a supply of the stamps and made certain that the letters were all written and returned to be posted the same day.

My earliest recollection of the cost of a stamp was two cents. This seemed like a modest price for getting a letter sent anywhere in the USA. Such a price seemed low for such a service. Most of the postage stamps depicted the face of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton or Benjamin Franklin. Commemorative issues were relatively rare.

Saturday morning a two-pound crock of butter needed to be delivered to the Woodard home a half mile from the parsonage. The task was assigned to me, for at seven years old I was eager to do it. I decided to take my tricycle, although it did not have a carrier. Mother warned me to be careful lest the crockery pot be damaged and the precious butter be spoiled. I started out well but soon the slippery cargo became unwieldy. About that moment along came Mr. Myers, the mail carrier, driving his horse and buggy that he used in the spring to negotiate the muddy roads. He halted a moment to see what I wanted. My simple request was to take the crock to the next house where he was headed.

"Can't do it, " he gruffly explained. "It's against the law to carry anything that isn't properly posted. Without that law, I'd be hauling everyone's stuff. Get off the seat and walk," he advised as he slapped the reins for the horse to move on.

With the image of the sheriff coming with handcuffs, I did as suggested, leaving my tricycle beside the road. Mrs. Woodard expressed appreciation and presented me with a freshly baked cookie to munch on my return home.

I will now jump ahead to the year 1960. My quandary was how to ship my books from Ellensburg, Washington to Houghton, New York where I was engaged to teach at Houghton College. My inquiries led to the conclusion that our household goods would not be worth the cost of shipping them. However, a quirk in the postal regulations gave books an especially low rate. Each day on the way to work, I hauled the number of boxes of volumes that the trunk would hold. I mailed them with the assurance from the post-mistress at Houghton that they would be all right until we arrived. The clerk at Ellensburg was amazed as the number of boxes shipped hit fifty.

Were the Houghton postal employees ever glad when I arrived to relieve the wee limited storage space of its burden. Several years later on a return summer trip to Ellensburg, I had occasion to go to the post office. To my surprise, the clerk at the window took one look at me and blurted out the word, "Books. All those books!"

When we left Houghton in 1992 for Washington, the set pattern was altered. After selling the house, I gave my business books to a new faculty member. Then, in the huge basement, we heaped piles of books on the plywood tables so the new occupants could either read or dispose of them

Gradually the price of stamps began to climb, especially noticeable during the Franklin D. Rooseelt terms when there were particular programs to be publicized to aid the anti--depression efforts. Spreading a message concerning a cause became a way to get the word out nationwide. Philatelic clubs and services began to be popular. Quite noticeable became the purchase of blocks by the dedicated collectors, assured that in time their aggregations would show sizeable
gains. At the time I felt sorry for myself that I was unable to invest in stamps.

From here forward the cost of stamps spiraled and the Post Office Department developed into a separate enterprise of government. Then I began to receive mail posted by these collectors with the postage in multiple denominations from prior years. Depending on when purchased, some would have been sufficient at that time to have posted the letter with one stamp. The farther back in time, the larger the loss. Only the truly scarce issues retain or gain value over time.

Who are the recipients of my letters these days? Obviously those with e-mail will not normally be on the list. Business matters where I am dependent on proof will continue to be part of letter writing. Those for whom I have no e-mail address will and need to contact will be receiving a letter. Regular letters will be used to back up telephone messages where critical.

I like to send and receive letters. But the question remains: How long can I afford to opt for what has become this pricey communication?

Monday, August 23, 2010

PERSPECTIVE ON MY LIFE

From the 87th year of 2008 I am now looking back to March 29, l922 and taking note of what my life has consisted of in terms of its general pattern. Such an overview is considered in broad general terms and does not deal with individual events that make up the fabric of one's daily activities. From my birth through high school is covered in detail in my prior book, OF A BOY AND HIS VALLEY, a period I think of as MY BEGINNING. ... From early childhood up through high school my desire was to serve my Lord.

Following this is what I think of as FOUNDATION FOR GROWTH. . College was quite different from the preceding time, as my horizons were broadened from a narrow view of the world and what was offered. The fact that three institutions contributed to this span of time was broadening. Chesbro' (subsequently named
Roberts Wesleyan College), Greenville College and Houghton College provided me with a wider view. I was challenged to live a Christ-like life. I was drafted and then was labeled 4F and told to return to college. After graduation, I got the first real job experience as cost accountant for Bell Aircraft Corporation during World War II in Buffalo and later in Burlington, Vermont. Serving Christ in a secular job was enlightening. When Betty and I were married, the rigid conduct of the pastor created for us a difficult dilemma. Fortunately that was solved by the ending of the war and my decision to return to Western New York.

Unemployment as a result of this move and the birth of our daughter Tina made a deep impression on me. Never had I felt so helpless as to be told that I was overqualified for work available. I was denied unemployment compensation as I was not a veteran. Desperate, I was finally hired by a canning factory and later by a produce dealer for whom I worked for the next seven years. We were involved with church work. Over the period we had responsibility for junior church, young people's group, Sunday school class, church treasurer and such other responsibilities.

During the seventh year I felt that God was calling me to do something for Him, I made haste to obey. After months of fruitless searching, I was on the way to Ellensburg, Washington. I had a job and we were serving God in a new church. My job there as a CPA was challenging and I felt we had arrived. My boss was a Christian. We had built a new house and dreams seemed to be fulfilled. We had answered the call to go and God was true to our obedience. We felt like we were established there for a life that would be fulfilling. Permanence we were ready for. The church positions were being provided with usual attractions: Youth group, Sunday school classes, church treasurer and so on. Next would come partnership in the accounting firm.

Then came the bombshell. Not all at once, but gradually. Our plans for the future were to be modified. Were we willing and ready?
This phase of my life could be termed THE PRODUCTIVE YEARS. President Paine's persistent call to join the faculty meant major changes in calling and in remuneration. The details of the year leading up to our move from Ellensburg to New York are recounted in Ch. 18 WHAT'S NEXT LORD? of my book FROM A STAR TO PARK AVENUE.

To assess my life's work is difficult, even looking back from the standpoint of the forty-eight years since my first class or the twenty years since my retirement. It would be possible to figure out the graduating majors and minors or the growth of the department over time. But these measurements would not truly be a measure of what has occurred or is still happening. My Christmas bonus from Houghton (cards and letters) and the other mail from former students is more meaningful. The number of faculty and other positions presently and formerly filled by graduates of the department as well as at other institutions is gratifying. But above all else I feel that the commendation of Christ reaffirms my decision to teach at Houghton.

One other challenge that meant a lot to me was the area of instructional media. I will never forget the day when I searched in vain for a projector. I was told that if I wanted to be sure of having one, I could assume the job and was assigned the dusty spot under the stairs going up to Fancher Hall for my collection place. Here I began the building of the Instructional Media endeavor leading to the television studio and to the hiring of Dan Moore to manage it. From that dusty spot to a key
location is testimony to its usefulness.

Now comes the final phase - RETIREMENT. . This came about as a five-tiered matter: The desire to write, the yen for travel, interest in photography, the desire to read and the need to do something physical or tangible.

In January 1989 I had started assembling material for my first book, OF A BOY AND HIS VALLEY. Parts of it had appeared first as letters to my grandchildren as I tried to explain how my experiences as a boy during the Depression had shaped my thinking. My wife and others said they thought it had the makings of a book. When the decision was made to go to Myrtle Beach to avoid those who continued to seek my advice, I took the material along to see what I could do with it. The first draft was written during that winter. Upon my return to Houghton in the spring, I tried out the results on one of my former students, Dindy Bence, who was now in an editorial position. Taking her advice, and again resorting to Myrtle Beach, I spent my time rewriting it. Sylvia Duttweiler had made original drawings to illustrate the book and typed the final copy. Heart of the Lakes Printers took the responsibility for publishing it. The book arrived at my home in June of 1991. In less than a year my first thousand had sold out. When I arrived in Washington in 1992, I wondered if there was enough demand for it. I took the chance and reordered. It took more time for this order to sell, but I now have less than thirty on hand.

One night in 1991 I was lying awake thinking of the cars I had owned. My thoughts fixed on the idea that so often a person would relate an event to the vehicle they had owned at that time. I began to wonder if anyone had written of their life as tied to the cars they had owned. I could not find a single book so constructed. I determined to do just that. Searching for a title, I arrived at what I thought would be a catchy title, FROM A STAR TO PARK AVENUE. The Star was the first auto owned by my father. The Park Avenue was the Buick model I currently drove. But such a title was seriously flawed. I wrote the book but later found that most people either thought that it was all about cars or didn't understand that it had more to do with the events of my life as stated as an AUTObiography. It sold far less than I had expected. Fortunately I had ordered a smaller quantity. Had I been less cutesy about the title, I would have sold more.

Presently I am doing some shorter pieces for a writing class with titles like THUNDER & LIGHTNING - STORIES FROM CAMPING and the like. This is the writing that keeps my mind alert.

Travel was my next ingredient. Immediately after retirement I purchased my one new vehicle - a 1989 micro-mini Winnebago Warrior. It proved to be exactly the right choice for our needs. It was fully contained and at 19.5 feet it could be parked wherever an auto could be accommodated.

The first main trip after shakedown was to follow the spread of fall from the North.
Teaching pre-empted such a trip prior to retirement. We traveled the highway to the extreme north point of Nova Scotia and slowly wound our way south as the season progressed. Arriving home from the Adirondack Mountains just in time for Homecoming at Houghton, the following week we continued our trek until the snow covered the trees in North Carolina. That was a satisfactory beginning.

There followed various trips to the 49 states and all of Canada's provinces. We drove to Alaska twice as well as taking two cruises there. The water was too deep to go to Hawaii so we cruised there once and flew another time. There were cruises to the Caribbean from Florida. So we saw quite a slice of the world. In addition to our two sabbaticals to New Zealand, we went there a third time seeing the country by RV with friends instead of sleeping in a tent. Topping it all off was finding our relatives in Ireland. Our travels now are over, limited as I am from the stroke. So I parted from the faithful Winnebago, thankful for its giving me l35,000 miles of trouble-free service.

Photography has been a constant for me, not just a retirement endeavor. From the time when our children were small it has been a long time pursuit. It has been a pursuit that has given me the pleasure of introducing it to Betty as she has established her reputation with cards after retiring from her teaching. I now hope to get back to this activity.

Reading has always been a desirable activity from the time I learned to do it. I read in the early years of life although it went easier when my parents realized that glasses were a requirement in first grade. It turned out to be something that was satisfying as a substitute for the field of sports. My eye problems have followed me over the years. After losing one eye due to botched surgery, sight took high priority for me. When the stroke affected my vision, I became greatly concerned. Prompt action by the ophthalmic physician brought back 20-20 vision
In the seeing eye.

In the intervening period I was introduced to the services for the blind and those with impaired vision. I was able to get books on tape from the special library. I now more than ever appreciate the ability to read. Hoping for interesting material from the catalog provided, I ordered what seemed like a reasonable selection of books on tape. In due time they continued to arrive. I was puzzled, as none of it fit the order. To this day and a dozen catalogs later I do not see the relevance to what I desired.

This brings the period of retirement up to the last segment - the section of activity involving physical tackling of a major challenge. When we arrived at Warm Beach a new house awaited us. Son Dan had it built by Ron Hansen and it was ready when we arrived in May 1992 with the truck carrying our goods. All was as planned including the three acre forested site. I hoped to create an attractive setting.

Over the following fifteen years I held brush parties. When I approached a man to chip up the brush, he told me I couldn't afford to hire him. He recommended that I buy a chipper to do the job. That was a good investment. The lower dead limbs on the trees made huge piles to be chipped. Using the extension ladder meant a lot of climbing. There was also the accumulation of dead limbs from the past.

There was lawn to prepare where the terrain was rough. The only tools I had were a mattock, rake and shovel. It seemed like a huge undertaking. Underneath much of it were old roots. In two areas were the remains of old dumps containing ancient car parts and tires. Another contained broken glass and hundreds of beer bottles, some with their contents intact. Mattresses and broken furniture were a part of the litter. Several large areas were covered with blackberry bushes with vines 30 or 40 feet long.

Betty had in mind flower gardens where the brush was nigh impenetrable. Slowly progress was made. When I reached the age of 75, it was thought an appropriate addition would be a tractor mower and trailer.

Annual additions of trees and shrubs were added. The long driveway (550 feet) was bordered with rhododendrons, azaleas, and several varieties of other flowering plants. To keep them watered by hand turned out to be a major water transport by wheelbarrow until I was able to install an irrigation system. As I would conquer one area another would be added. This meant an increasing area to care for. Annually a certain number of trees would fall and the wood had to be cut, split and piled.

All of this activity came to a halt on March 15, 2006, the date of my stroke. From here on this phase of my retirement was terminated.

But being able to write does leave a door open to communicate my thoughts. And I find it very satisfying to look back on my life thus far and know that I am not without a way to express my joy to be still serving my God. Moving to Warm Beach on April 1, 2007 marked the opening of a new era of my retirement saga. By keeping in touch with friends and making new ones we can make it a joyful and pleasant benediction.

Monday, August 16, 2010

SATISFYING THE URGE

I know it's been some time since he's had a letter from me, so I'll try to remedy that omission on my part. Answering correspondence regularly is a sterling trait that I want to continue. In the moments available to me now, I'll delay no longer, but get started.

First I need to check my mailing list to find out if this person has e-mail. If he does, I'll just stop here and write my message in that form. It would seem quite extravagant to mail it by USPS at the price of letter postage if I can send it by e-mail. Not finding his name on my computer address list means I'm safe at this point.

What is the date? It's important to the reader to know when this was written. To date the letter will lend a sense of immediacy. Where have all of the calendars gone? It seems like yesterday that there was at least one of these pictorial documents on every wall. Locating the calendar, my memory fails me in recalling the day of the week this is. "Betty. Is today Wednesday or Thursday?" She is able to definitely pinpoint the day as Tuesday.

Next is the message. What about the weather? It's surely a theme that interests almost everyone. It's certainly a hot topic now as well as across the country. But what will it be like in another day or two when this letter arrives? On the other hand I could wax eloquent about the past week when it was perfect. In either case it could appear like I'm bragging. But I'm not. Better avoid discussing that for which I can claim neither benefit nor responsibility. I'll select a safer mode.

I could take up the matter of Betty's health. That's a matter I'm sure will get the attention of most of our friends. I can report that the knee surgery was successful. But then it will bring up a host of attendant issues. No. It was not a complete knee replacement. That took place two years ago. That the kneecap was disintegrated and the pieces had to be removed will raise the question of replacement. How can I explain no need for it now? This little note is getting nowhere. I'd better search elsewhere for safer news.

After all. do I need to write this letter? It gives me a headache just to think about it. "Thank you for the aspirin, Betty." I'll try it again another day if the urge hits me.

Monday, August 9, 2010

NO BAGGAGE

"Did you really mean that you have no baggage?" asked the amazed handler as I stepped up to the gate.

"I'm traveling light this trip," I cheerfully responded.

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Here is my explanation.

As I review my past, I think of my compunction to be adequately prepared for whatever may be required. My parents were relied upon for the first period of my life. They did a credible job of preparing me, given their limited resources.

Seven years at Elba, NY working for a vegetable shipper provided me with a basic understanding of what was needed in the business world. But the next step in the area of comprehension of what was required of an accountant was achieving CPA certification. Assisting other people with ethical considerations added to my personal concerns as a responsible father guiding his family to making correct decisions regarding right and wrong. Ellensburg Washington added depth to all of this. Here was my first opportunity to build a home, a place to store the things I was accumulating. Not much by worldly standards, but it was a beginning.

A shock to my accumulative urge was the clear plan of God that meant a major change of direction. The return to Houghton to start a Department of Business
Administration meant leaving the home that had become a central part of my plan. Discussion with van line personnel convinced me that what we had in furniture would not warrant the cost of moving it. What we had in books would be the one item I could trust to the US Postal Service for 5 cents per pound as of that date. All other things should be sold and replaced when we arrived. We followed this advice and left Ellensburg on the Milwaukee train with only carryon luggage.

The next twenty-eight years were spent in academic matters - teaching and learning about my students. I wouldn't for a moment minimize the responsibility of that portion of my task. This was what God had prepared me for. Faced with other opportunities, my decision was to stay with the assignment. Again I experienced the joys and sorrows of building a unique house. Travels during the summer offered opportunities for Betty to learn and enrich her botanical background for her college teaching. Over that period of time our holdings of appropriate books grew.

Retirement at 68 seemed appropriate along with the question of where to use that portion of our life. Along with this necessarily came the question of what to do with the things acquired over the ensuing time period. My store of business related books logically went to my colleagues. The detailed records dating back to my Bell Aircraft era and subsequent would be of value only to myself.

When the opportunity came in 1992 to move to Stanwood, Washington to "pioneer" the settlement surrounding the new home that Dan contracted to have built, we finally had to make many hard choices of items to relinquish. The tandem bike, for example, and the multiple camping items were tough to put in the items to sell. My eyes deceived me when packing the large Ryder truck I had rented for the move. On the afternoon when loading the truck was taking place, it became clear to me that the boat, motor and trailer about which the household goods would be placed just would not fit. A quick deal to my fisherman neighbor proved to be the only answer. This was only one example of the pain of parting. One item that afforded me great delight was the offer of my friend Lee Houseknecht to drive my Winnebago Warrior motor home out for a vacation.

Arriving at the house on Frank Waters Road, the saga of clearing and beautifying the property bespoke the need for a variety of tools: Yard tractor and trailer, chipper, power saw, and what turned out to be a lengthy list. The next fourteen years found use for all of the foregoing.

My stroke in March of 2006 brought his to a halt. After about a year of semi-recovery, it became clear that I could no longer do what was required to maintain the place, we decided to move to the Warm Beach Senior Community to which we had made application while on our way to Alaska in 1990. Dan was at the same time in the process of leaving Compassion. We all felt that the timing of both moves was right.

The move was accomplished with the assistance of the small group that met at the Ricarte house. Our furnishings and the like were disposed of by yard sale and donation to thrift stores. The tools and the like could remain for our son to have as he continues to beautify the property.

The last item of consequence to be dealt with was the Winnebago Warrior motor home. It had served us well over 136,000 trouble-free miles. With it we had driven over 49 states and all of the Canadian provinces. Over the span of driving 26 different vehicles, the motor home was the only new vehicle I purchased. I trust that the new owner has the same happy experience as we did.

In searching the records, you will discover nothing in rental storage or recorded receipts for goods to be claimed. No intangibles remain such as feelings of bitterness or anger. There are no scores to be settled. I'm ready to go when God deems the time is right.

I stand by assertion, NO BAGGAGE.

Monday, August 2, 2010

HILLSIDE COW

"Eva," Father announced at breakfast that Saturday morning, "Brother Reed is giving us a cow."

"Is it sick or injured" Mother asked in surprise?

"She has one bad foot. But the veterinarian charges so much to come out to the farm that he'd rather give us the cow if I can save it," was Father's response.

"How can you get it here? We don't have a truck," was Mother's practical question.

"Arnold can lead it. He can sit in the trailer and hold the end of the rope while I drive slow." was Father's solution.

Father cautioned me to keep him posted on the proper speed. I promised to be very careful. We drove two and a half miles to Frank Reed's farm and found him awaiting our arrival. The cow was not a Holstein like the rest of the herd. Instead, it appeared to be a Jersey. It was common practice for the farmer to keep one animal for rich milk for the family. Holsteins had the reputation for quantity but the Jersey produced a much richer product but significantly less of it.

Father and I also noticed that this animal had suffered the loss of one-fourth of the udder with only three instead of four teats present. When questioned, Mr. Reed told father that this didn't affect the cow's ability to make rich milk but just gave a lopsided appearance. That seemed all right so father placed the improvised rope harness over the cow's head and we began the trip home.

The sore leg made the going very slow. Sensing the change from familiar scenes made the bovine less cooperative. From one side of the road to the other the grass appeared greener. At times my muscles were stretched to the limit. When a rare vehicle approached, father would pull to a halt. The next problem was to start making progress again towards home. At last we reached the barn. With the inducement of a measure of oats the cow was secured in the third stanchion.

Wasting no time, father rigged up a treatment trough from a large tin can. Into it he inserted the hoof. Apparently it felt better as the cow tolerated it without complaint. She seemed contented with the attention she was receiving. With the few animals that we had, naming this addition seemed Important.

Mother decided she should be named Bessie, the Hillside Cow, because she could graze at an angle on the steep pasture slope without stumbling. Soon Bessie also began impressing grandma with the cream she produced. The golden crocks of butter testified to her quality product. The attorney from Buffalo made certain it was Bessie's product.

My first year of high school included the first year of Agriculture I. When it came to cows, how the other would brag about the gallons produced by their herds of from 50 to 200 milking cows. My puny output of one or two cows was a joke. Then came the time to learn how to test milk for butterfat. Mother sent a sample of Bessie's product for me to use in testing. The test of the other herds was on the average between 2.00 and 2.30%. Next was my sample. How would it stand up to the rest?

As the other fellows watched, I tried my sample. The reading came to 5.8% "Try it again," I was challenged. "This first one was a fluke. It can't be for real," was the comment. I chose another sample. This one was 5.9%. Bessie, the Hillside Cow had established the record for East Otto.

For all of the various cows that we came by, one way or another, the Hillside Cow was always recalled as the first in the production of golden butter.

Monday, July 26, 2010

HERE I AM! SEE ME?

The future has caught up with me. I discovered a composition that I had written seventy-six years ago for an assignment in English composition based upon the future inventions likely to occur.

Miss Katherine Lincoln, the teacher at East Otto District No. 6 A, instructed the four members of the 6th grade class in English: "Let your imagination build on the present technology to arrive at a new and higher level of development. What kind of world could be brought into existence if these ideas were pursued? You could be a part of this great new advance."

My thoughts were fired by the idea of a future that could be changed by new concepts. Communication took my attention. The latest advance in our community was the advent of the telephone. Granted was the fact that only a few of the homes contained the instrument. The parsonage was not one of these so privileged to join the party line. The Albert Pratt residence was one subscriber as well as the Eugene Wing, Fleckenstein and Woodard households.

When someone at our house wanted to make a call or receive one, this necessitated going to where the instrument was located, usually a central location. The receiver on the wooden box was raised to learn if the line was free and the operator was given the desired number. In due time, the party called made contact with the caller. It was a terrific advance in person to person contact
over long distances.

Given the freedom to dream about future improvements, I started with the local operator as the first person to be eliminated.

Friday, July 23, 2010

HANGING AT HERO

"Can Judy go with us? It isn't nearly so much fun without her," pleaded our Judi as we planned our New England trip.

"What does her mother say?" Betty inquired.

"Why don't you call her and ask. Then you'll both know. I think it would be a blast," our daughter urged.

Later that day Betty phoned Mrs. Barker. She enthusiastically agreed that it would be all right with them. Summer at that period of time in Houghton held little that would interest the girls. Dan was working at camp in Maryland, so our Judi wouldn't have him to pal around with.

We took off in great glee with the back seat of the Dodge looking like it was ready to entertain a party. Judy B's parents owned the Village Store in Houghton. She saw to it that there were plenty of snacks to stave off hunger.

The multiple destinations were spaced along to break up the driving. First on our list was Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. Many old time activities were enacted as we strolled the streets of the town. Those in costume gave the scenes the authentic appearance. The two Judys were free to wander wherever their interest led.

Another memorable stop was at the Dolly Copp farm, now turned into a campground for travelers. The historical marker gave a twist to the life of the Copps on this stony mountainside. It stated that when the Copps had reached their 50th wedding anniversary, Mrs. Copp packed him off to one daughter and she to another. The rationale was that he had been a decent husband but fifty years with one man was enough. Being well on the way to that noted milestone ourselves, I began asking Betty what she was considering. (Now, after sixty-two years together, I wonder what Betty is thinking.)

Of course they wanted to visit Maine's rocky coast. Cadillac Mountain on Mt. Desert Island was a perfect spot to see the waves dash on the rocky shore. A special surprise was finding another family of a Houghton student there. To top it off, the son had stayed at Barker house while in college. This unplanned reunion made this special.

Fundy National Park in New Brunswick had the appeal of being the site of some of the world's highest tides. That was put on the "to do" list. Upon our arrival there, the girls made a stop at the rest room.

"Where did you get that shirt?" they both demanded of the girl who was standing there.

"Houghton College, of course," she responded. "My father attended there and I will be going there this fall."

Introductions were made as they became acquainted with Donna Harr. That night we had a memorable picnic at the beach where we met her family. It turned into a delightful occasion for everyone. Donna roomed at our house the next year.

After crossing into Nova Scotia, it was time we started home. We visited a number of special places along the way including Smugglers Notch in Vermont.
For Betty and me it brought back memories to see where we had first set up housekeeping. How distant the past had become. The three months there just before the war was over seemed unreal. The Free Methodist Church seemed so small. Even Battery Park from which the Ticonderoga sailed appeared cluttered.

It was late afternoon when we decided to find a place to stay for that night. The late summer afternoon spread its aura over the scene that had once been so familiar. Looking over the map, Betty suggested, "Why not go north taking the island route to New York State near Alburg. That way we can see mountains in both directions."

"Suits me," I agreed.

"We are ready to go home too," responded the girls. "Let's hit the trail."

Just beyond the town of South Hero I noted the sign for Grand Isle State Park. "This sounds like a good spot," Betty approved. "Let's camp there."

Soon we had camp set up. The warmth of the sun and the view of Mt. Mansfield gave a sense of peace to the scene. It gave us a good feeling to be returning home in such good shape after the many miles traveled. We would sleep well tonight.

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About midnight we were jolted awake. An electrical storm had crossed Lake Champlain from the Adirondacks and now seemed bent on our flimsy abode. As thunder rolled and the lightning flashed it revealed our desperate predicament. The canvass portion of the trailer raised from the bows and then slammed down on the sleeping trays. The wind had come streaking across the lake, unimpeded by trees and other natural windbreaks. The trailer rocked from side to side. It was as if the blast of air got under the rig and was attempting to roll it over. The trailer lacked the stability of a tent that was pegged to the earth. Attached to the car by a hitch, there was nothing but the weight of the trailer plus the people inside to hold it down. If the bows bent with the gusts, giving the tent portion freedom, the entire structure could just fly away.

Betty and the girls were helpless. To go outside under these conditions would risk being blown away. Added to our concern were the metal bows that would act as conductors of electricity.

"Daddy, do something," wailed our daughter. "Can't you do something."

"Stay put," I urged them. *Betty, lie down on the bed and just stay there and pray."

By raising my arms, I could just reach the bows that were secured to the tent by webbing. Grabbing hold of them, I put all of my weight to hold down on the bows. The tugging on the supports tired my arms as I feared to loosen my grip. The gusts seemed to never give up. It made me feel like a yoyo as the wind jerked me around. Finally the wind began to ease. At last I could loosen my grip. The worst was passed.

The rain continued during the night, but sleep came to the exhausted campers. My shoulders and arms ached but that was the only ill effect of hanging on at Hero.

Monday, July 12, 2010

BENT and UNBENT

As I was driving from Elba to Batavia on that late November day in 1950, I noticed a neat layout on the east side of the highway. The relatively modern house was well-placed to take advantage of its setting. Upon my return to the office, I asked Wesley Warner, my boss, who the occupants were.

"The Greenfields. He is a chiropractor of some repute in the area," was his comment. "But I've never had need for his services," Wes was quick to reply.

"Nor have I," was my response. At that, a grower came by to sell his onions.

The following Monday morning I was hurrying out the door, bent on making it to the office on time. I was quite unaware that a light drizzle of freezing rain had fallen during the night, coating the porch and steps with a clear sheen. The impetus unchecked, I rose in the air and fell back landing with the middle of my back across the top step.

Stunned, I attempted to rise, but that didn't happen. All I could muster was a feeble groan. As I became aware of my helplessness, I tried calling for help, but Betty was getting the children up. It took much effort to get her attention. When she became aware of my predicament, she was eager to help. Crawling painfully up the steps and into the kitchen was a beginning. But the excruciating pain at the point of my back where it was still bent needed attention.

The first thought was to call the local doctor Naturally he wanted to see me before making a diagnosis. He agreed that it had been a nasty fall to bring so much pain. His prescription was for pain relief medication to make me more comfortable while it was healing. Following his instructions explicitly, I went home, expectantly optimistic about the outcome.

As evening came on, there was no relief from the pain. If anything, it continued to increase. Usually I can accept and live with a moderate amount of discomfort. This was different. I couldn't find a position to ease the pain. About the time evening office hours were to close, I insisted that Betty phone the doctor with this report. All he could offer was to increase the medication. I didn't get much rest, but tossed and turned all night long.

Day two was a repeat of day one with the pain becoming keener. The fortitude to bear it became thinner and my ability to accept it was wearing thin. Additional calls to the doctor were greeted with more painkilling aids. The coming of night brought a succession misery with no hope of change. Betty had her hands full with the care of the family plus my complaints. She couldn't drive to aid in getting more care from any source. Another night of misery was the prospect.

As the third day began, I couldn't see any hope in sight. The pain didn't ease but seemed to grow stronger. As my feelings of desperation increased, so did my desire to try anything. Was there any other means of relief available? I was now willing to try anything. Then the chiropractor, Mr. Greenfield came to my mind.

"Betty, please call the chiropractor to see if he would have an opening," I begged.

"He would see you at two o'clock," was the message.

Putting all of my misconceptions behind me, I was making my way to his office by the appointed time. When I reached the building where the office was located, I was faced with a new problem: I had to make my way up a steep wooden stairway to reach the second floor where he held forth. I gritted my teeth and started up, pausing after each step to recover strength to continue. At last I reached the top step and headed down a long hallway to the door bearing his name.

Here there was no delay with identification or prior treatment. He asked me what had happened. Then, directing me to the table, he gave me two or three quick pulls and twists.

"How does that feel now?" he asked.

"It doesn't hurt at all now," I responded.

"If you have further trouble, come see me," was his advice.

After paying his five-dollar fee, I headed for the stairway, lately so laboriously climbed. In fact, I found myself taking two steps at a time. Arriving home, my joy was really contagious. I called in to the office to tell them I'd be there in the morning.

My respect for chiropractic had bloomed. From that time on when passing his home, I reflected on how my back had been bent and unbent.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

65 Year Celebration



It was a wonderful weekend of celebration. On Friday, all three of our children and their spouses joined us in remembering this special day. On Sunday over 100 of our friends came by to rejoice with us in commemorating this milestone in our marriage. As a part of our celebration, we wrote tributes to each other which we read Sunday afternoon. We would like to share these thoughts with you.

MY TRIBUTE TO BETTY

DEAREST BETTY, THERE ARE FEW PERSONS OR THINGS ON WHICH I CAN TOTALLY RELY. FROM THE VERY FIRST TIME I SAW AND HEARD YOU SPEAK AT CHURCH, YOU IMPRESSED ME AS THE KIND OF GIRL I COULD REALLY TRUST. FOUR YEARS LATER ON OUR VERY FIRST DATE THIS WAS RECONFIRMED. OUR WEDDING VOWS THAT FOLLOWED IN DUE TIME FORMALIZED THE AGREEMENT OF TRUST. NOW, AFTER SIXTY-FIVE YEARS OF MARRIAGE, I CAN LOOK BACK ON AN UNBROKEN WEB OF TESTED AND ENDURING CONFIDENCE IN YOU.

YOUR COMMITMENT TO CHRIST AND THE WORK OF THE KINGDOM HAS ALWAYS FORMED A SOLID BASE UPON WHICH TO BUILD OUR LASTING MARRIAGE AND FAMILY. YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF GOD'S LEADING IN OUR CROSS-COUNTRY MOVES SPOKE TO ME OF THE DEPTH OF YOUR AGREEMENT TO FOLLOW WITHOUT RESERVATION.

AT AGE 28, FOLLOWING UP ON FULL-TIME PARENTING FOR OUR THREE CHILDREN, YOU WERE WILLING TO START COLLEGE WITH THE LONG TERM VISION OF A BROADER UNDERSTANDING OF THE ENVIRONMENT. THIS LED TO PURSUING THE TALENTS OF WRITING AND PHOTOGRAPHY AS GOD'S CHOSEN INSTRUMENT OF EXPRESSION. THE CLARITY AND MODULATION OF YOUR SPEAKING VOICE ADDED TO THE EFFECTIVENESS OF MY SLIDE PRESENTATIONS LONG BEFORE YOU BEGAN GIVING YOUR OWN. YOUR READING OF MY ARTICLES FOR WRITING CLASS CONTINUES TO PLEASE THE LISTENERS.

YOUR PART TO PLAY IN THIS PLAN TURNED OUT TO BE ONE OF TEACHING TO A HOST OF STUDENTS WHO EMULATED YOUR EXAMPLE IN THE CLASSROOM AS WELL AS IN THE FIELD. YOUR TEACHING OF SPIRITUAL VALUES AS WELL AS SCIENTIFIC FACTS CAPTURED THE MINDS OF YOUR STUDENTS. MUCH OF THIS RUBBED OFF ON ME.

IT BECAME APPROPRIATE TO PLAN EXCURSIONS ACROSS OUR GREAT LAND TO STUDY ALPINE, DESERT, PRAIRIE, AND MOUNTAIN ENVIRONMENTS. ACROSS CANADA FROM NEWFOUNDLAND TO ALASKA BROADENED MY HORIZONS. OUR TWO SABBATICAL CAMPING EXPERIENCES TO NEW ZEALAND PERMITTED US SEPARATE AREAS OF STUDY WITHOUT FRICTION. THE EXTENDED TIME IN NEW ZEALAND FORMED THE CAPSTONE OF YOUR BOTANICAL STUDIES.

BETTY, IN THIS ACADEMIC WORLD YOU HAVE BEEN A GUIDE TO ME WHEN MAKING DIFFICULT DECISIONS. WHEN PRESSURES WERE GREAT, YOU HELPED ME TO STAY FIRM, OFFERING ME COUNSEL WHEN I NEEDED IT. YOU HAVE BEEN AN ENCOURAGEMENT IN ALL OF LIFE'S CHANGING SCENES.

FOR THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS YOU HAVE FELT THE MAKING OF GREETING CARDS AND ENVELOPES TO BE A SPECIAL MINISTRY. THAT HAS PROVIDED AN OUTLET FOR YOUR PHOTOGRAPY AS WELL AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE AN ENCOURAGMENT TO MEMBERS OF THIS COMMUNITY AND BEYOND. THAT CONTINUES TO PROVIDE YOU A FURTHER OUTREACH TO TOUCH OTHERS.

THE LAST FOUR YEARS FOLLOWING MY STROKE, YOU HAVE SHOWN SPECIAL LOVE IN THE WAY YOU HAVE TREATED MY LIMITATIONS, OVERLOOKING MY FLAWS. AND STILL LOVING ME.

INDEED, YOU CONTINUE TO BE MY LOVER, MY BEST FRIEND AND SUPER PARTNER IN MARRIAGE.


TRIBUTE TO ARNOLD

"DOES MARRIED LOVE ENDURE? WILL OUR LOVE BE STEADY AND GOOD?" NOW IT IS 65 YEARS LATER. AFTER BIRTHING OUR THREE BABIES, THREE TRANSCONTINENTAL MOVES, SHARING BOTH JOYS AND SORROWS, I FIND MARRIAGE TO YOU TO BE VERY GOOD. OUR LOVE HAS INDEED ENDURED.

YOU HAVE CONTRIBUTED MUCH TO OUR LIFE TOGETHER. YOU CONTINUE TO BE BOTH LOVER AND TRUE FRIEND - ONE WHO HAS UNDERSTOOD ME. YOU LOOKED BEYOND MY FLAWS, LOVED AND ACCEPTED ME FOR WHAT I WAS. YOU ENCOURAGED ME TO PURSUE MY EDUCATION; YOU RECOGNIZED MY DESIRE TO BE PRODUCTIVE IN WRITING AND PHOTOGRAPHY. YOU ENCOURAGED ME TO BECOME THE PRODUCTIVE INSTRUMENT GOD HAD DESIGNED.

THANK YOU FOR OUR TRAVELS TOGETHER. BACKPACKING TREKS ON MOUNT RAINIER ; CAMPING EXPEDITIONS ALL OVER THIS GREAT LAND MAKING PRAIRIE, DESERT AND ALPINE STUDIES POSSIBLE; OUR TWO SABBATICAL CAMPING EXPERIENCES THRUOUT NEW ZEALAND, ALLOWING OUR TWO STUDIES TO BE DONE WITHOUT FRICTION; ALASKA, ACROSS CANADA TO NEWFOUNFDLAND AND LABRADOR; AND OUR VERY SPECIAL TIME IN IRELAND.

IN TIMES OF DISCOURAGEMENT YOU HAVE ENCOURAGED AND BOLSTERED MY SPIRIT, INSPIRING ME TO A DEEPER FAITH.

THANK GOD FOR THE SPIRITUAL HERITAGE YOU PROVIDED FOR OUR CHILDREN , SHARING WITH THEM YOUR STANDARDS OF HONESTY AND FAIRNESS; YOUR STEADFASTNESS IN DEVOTIONS AND WORSHIP IN GOD'S HOUSE.

PSALM 37;23 DECLARES THAT "THE STEPS OF A GOOD MAN ARE ORDERED BY THE LORD." LOOKING BACK OVER THE TAPESTRY OF OUR LIVES, I SEE THAT THIS DECLARATION IS TRUE.

YOUR MOTHER SAID THAT YOU SHOULD BE A TEACHER. YOU DECLARED THAT YOU WOULD NEVER BE A TEACHER. GOD SMILED AND PROCEDED TO DIRECT YOUR STEPS AND TO CHANGE YOUR THINKING. THROUGH CIRCUMSTANCES AND HAPPENINGS BEYOND YOUR PLANNING, YOU BECAME A PROFESSOR AT HOUGHTON COLLEGE IN 1960.

FROM THAT POINT YOU BECAME INVOLVED WITH YOUR STUDENTS, GIVING OF YOURSELF TO THEM IN COUNSELING, PRAYING AND TEACHING. OUR FAMILY LIFE ENLARGED TO ENTWINE WITH THE STUDENTS, MAKING IT A DELICATE BALANCE.

IN DUE TIME OUR CHILDREN MATURED AND LEFT THE HOME NEST. YET YOU REMAINED CONCERNED FOR THEM AND THE MULTIPLIED STUDENTS WHO HAD KEPT COMING ALONG.

FOUR YEARS AGO YOU ENDURED A SERIOUS STROKE. THIS BROUGHT A TIME FOR RELEARNING MANY SKILLS. IN THIS, YOU WERE DISCIPLINED AND DETERMINED. I LEARNED PATIENCE. GOD'S GRACE HAS OILED MANY ROUGH SPOTS, BRINGING HEALING TO BODY, MIND AND SOUL.

YES, ARNOLD, MARRIED LOVE ENDURES. I LOVE YOU MORE THAN CAN BE EXPRESSED. LIFE WOULD BE INCOMPLETE WITHOUT YOU. YOU ARE A GENUINE FRIEND AND A TRUE MARRIAGE PARTNER.

THANK YOU. I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH.

Monday, June 28, 2010

WHY E-MAIL DRIES UP?

My mind has wrapped itself around an intriguing problem to which I can only offer tentative conclusions. Why do communicants cease to communicate when e-mail is so cheap? It seems like it is a bargain too great to pass up. I will address only the persons who own or have access to a computer, although currently the price of a computer is no longer beyond the financial range of most.

I'll address first the most obvious excuse: I don't know how to type adequately. I never learned to type in the seventy-five years since in high school when I decided to take Typing I. My father bought me a Corona typewriter but instead of two ranks per key it held three. In no uncertain terms the teacher referred to it as a maverick so I dropped the course and learned to make do with what I had. My "one finger method" got me through high school and college. With my spelling finger it turned out credible work for my wife too as I fingered out her papers. With care, you can do better than that with a computer keyboard.

The death of a spouse often terminates e-mail. Perhaps there will be an obituary or a brief summary of the life of the deceased. Often that concludes all normal contact with the surviving individual. This would seem like an important time to maintain connections with friends who can be an encouragement.

Some people would mention busyness as the reason for discontinuing regular or sporadic correspondence. Granted that certain individuals are always involved in a plethora of activities. Yet these are the ones who find time to write. Those who use busyness as an excuse are the ones who fritter away opportunities but have a penchant for other activities.

Yet another activity replaces e-letter writing. I refer to the phonaholic who can go on interminably, often repeating the same information over and over. This takes the time of the person listening. How frequently the individual calling goes on and on when Betty is trying to get supper on the table. Also I notice how much the absence of bafflegab from E-mail typically reduces the content of the message to its essential parts. Writing a letter on e-mail forces a longwinded phonaholic to reduce the message to the essentials. Figuring out what information is essential can do a lot for clarity in all communication.

My mind can conjure up other reasons for failing to keep up e-mail and just letting silence reign. But my strong preference still is for cheap and lucid communication.

Monday, June 21, 2010

REBIRTH OF THE CLIPPER

These were the magical words I had been long awaiting: "I've found a bobsled for you," my father announced at breakfast that Saturday morning.

"Where?" I eagerly questioned.

"Over at Mertie Freeborn's place on Lover's Lane at Cattaraugus," was father's response. He sounded cautious as he added, "It's not in very good condition. In fact, it may not be fixable."

"Let's go and get it right away," I urged.

Showing an obvious amount of reluctance, he finally agreed to go after the chores were done. On the way over I chattered about the possibilities. When we arrived at the Freeborn home, Mertie directed us to the back porch beneath which lay the remains of the bobsled that had been used by grandchildren Sanford and Beatrice.

It had lain there, abandoned, so long that it appeared to have given up hope of ever zooming down the slopes again. The front set of bobs was broken and the steel runners were gone. Without great enthusiasm I suggested to father that we take it home and see what could be done with it. We tied the wreck to the old trailer and on the way home discussed what needed to be done.

Father thought some oak boards would make good runners. But the metal for the runners would require the help of the blacksmith to turn some old hay rake teeth into proper form. I was eager to transform the eight-foot length of plank into a shining seating surface. Addition of hand rails would give the riders something to hold on to. With the woodworking skills of my father and the aid of the blacksmith, I was able to achieve a respectable sled after what seemed like a. long wait.

The urge to get my resurrected bobsled operative was spurred by my best friend, Don Sprowl, who had constructed his version from brand new materials. Two coats of scarlet paint and much elbow grease to smooth out the pitted runners added the finishing touches. Snow that year was slow to appear and over a week elapsed before I was able to show my sled to Don. It was exactly as long as his.

Hammond Hill rose sharply after passing the Pratt Homestead. That was before the Highway Department sharply cut the grade back to its present more modest size. Horse-drawn sleighs tended to create firm tracks for the bobsleds. No gravel, cinders or salt were applied to provide traction for tires.

The intersection where West Road took off was one hazardous spot that had to be reckoned with. The arrival of another vehicle at the same time a bobsled was coming down the hill had to be avoided to escape a collision. Under ideal sliding conditions, we could zip past Pratts, zoom on by the school and church, and with icy conditions almost make it to Gene Wing's farm across the valley.

"My bobsled can go faster than yours," Don gave voice to what had been on my mind.

"You can't prove it", was my retort.

"Sure I can," was his instant response. "We'll measure the course and then calculate the speed using my dad's stop watch."

Upon my acquiescence, the trial was arranged. The track was too narrow to run it simultaneously, so it was a timed test. We convinced our parents to be the timekeepers for three consecutive runs. The track was in perfect condition and the results jockeyed back and forth. The speed clocked was in the 36 mph range. Not bad for the amateur and his sled. We agreed that the result was a tie.

Sliding on a moonlit night had its exhilaration. It had its benefits over the use of a flashlight whose yellow beam soon faded out. Batteries were expensive and didn't last. Nights with a full moon were best. An advantage was that the lights of vehicles on the highway offered better warning than during daylight hours.

My attempts to devise adequate brakes for the bobsled had mixed results. My best efforts were chains that dropped down over the rear bobs at the request to the rider. Once applied, they acted to stop the sled and couldn't be released without stopping the sled. This required close communication with the brakeman. It was strictly an emergency brake but was one innovation that Don's sled did not have.

Moving to Gowanda put the Clipper into even more challenging an environment. The hills that surrounded the town had notable distinction for steepness and sharp curves. To try these out were worth waiting the four months for winter to get started. But when the time arrives, the Clipper was ready.

Just one block from home was Hill Street. A last portion of it made a precipitous drop to connect with West Main Street. In winter that portion of it was too steep a grade for the snowplows to attempt. A "ROAD CLOSED" sign delegated that part of the street to pedestrians and sliders. Stopping at the intersection proved to be the tricky part. Here at last was where my improvised chain brakes came in handy. A definite stop was in order. The Clipper had a definite advantage.

Winter's progress led to further challenges. Just before the village limits a truly S curve wound down from the plateau above to intersect with the main highway to Dayton. This street was regularly plowed. At the bottom of the hill where it reached the highway, proceeding directly across it, was another road carrying the traffic over the rail line to Dayton.

The idea struck me that it would be neat to start at the top of the hill, zip through the S curve, cross the highway and go over the railroad tracks to end the run down that street. It seemed like a perfectly logical plan. For it to work, I needed someone to halt traffic on the main road. It was easily arranged with my pal Bob Rabe to do this small favor.

I started down the hill, proceeding full tilt around the curve, until I reached the road to Dayton. To my consternation, there was Bob, red-faced, with cars lined up in both directions, holding an animated conversation with a State Patrolman. It wasn't long before I found myself a part of it. I was obstructing traffic on a main road. That proved to be against the law. Pleading ignorance, the officer chose to not press the case but let me go after some stern warnings.

I chose to avoid that street after another narrow escape. I was barreling down the grade when an icy stretch forced me to the edge. I struggled to hold the path that took me right towards a poplar tree. Struggling to gain control, I missed the tree but the speed clipped off the footrest adjacent to my left foot. It would have damaged my whole leg or worse.

One winter Saturday Dr. Cole, our neighbor across the street, offered to give me a ride on the bobsled behind his Buick. The standard plan was to leave the lead rope to the sled attached to the car bumper in such manner that it could be cut loose in case a problem occurred. We zoomed along with the snow flying wide. It seemed like a big lark until I noted that one side of the hitch had come loose, causing the bobsled to careen wildly from side to side. No way could I signal him to stop. He caught sight of my predicament in the rearview mirror and pulled safely to a halt. I was thankful to be alive.

The Clipper was a great sled. I vowed to keep it. I did, until I turned sixteen when riving a car seemed much more exciting. I said a fond goodbye to Clipper, turning my attention to father's Pontiac.

Friday, June 18, 2010

65th Anniversary


CONGRATULATIONS
Today, June 18, is Arnold and Betty's 65th wedding anniversary!

Because you have shared in their lives by your friendship and love
We invite you to join in the celebration of the 65 year Wedding Anniversary of
Arnold and Betty Cook
on Sunday, the 20th of June 2010 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Beachwood Lounge, Warm Beach Senior Community
Stanwood, Washington

Tina Jeffords, Danny Cook and Judi Mayhle, children.

Monday, June 14, 2010

EXUBERANCE IN CHANGING TIMES

The happy moment had arrived. Three little great grandchildren were containing their exuberance following dessert after dinner that stifled the desire for only one more experience - Christmas presents. Daniel, the eldest of the siblings, gladly offered his services as dispenser of the trove under the tree. With adult aid to guide him to the proper recipients, he manfully attacked his duties of dispensing the mother lode, assisted by his sisters, Mercy and Gracie.

Opening gifts began quite mildly, with each present delivered to the proper person. It wasn't long before the desire to speed the process was nurturing the alacrity with which the opening took place. Less attention began to be devoted to the gift by the distributor than to the method of its opening.

Meticulously wrapped articles covered with matching paper and ribbons to enhance their beauty received no more attention than if they were covered with a wrapping of newspaper or the store bags in which they were originally purchased. Speed in arriving at the contents seemed the prime consideration. Tearing through the outward covering seemed to be prime objective. Golden cords, shiny papers, prettily tied bows and nicely arranged accompaniments were not given a second consideration.

Mercy appeared to be taking pleasure in ripping off each bit of paper. Gracie felt it her duty to gather up the bits and pieces and deposit them in the carton where the trash was being accumulated. It operated as a special game, not competitive at all but thorough. Each shred of wrapping and binding were carefully accumulated and tossed in with glee. When the contents of a package were for one of the children, it was greeted with enthusiasm and then the game began again.

Soon the number of offers of help for Betty and me were diminished as we didn't enter into the thrill of ripping off the paper. Eventually the pile of presents was depleted until a single gift remained - a huge bulk on the top of the coffee table. The paper to cover it was significant. It enveloped the entire structure. When the task of revealing the contents was taken over by the children, that started slowly and then increased to a frenzy as the roof and sides of a huge doll house appeared. In much less time than it must have taken to cover it, the entire structure was clearly made visible including the contents of each room. The revelation of the home was impressive and all three of the young ones were soon engaged in checking out the features.

The debris from all of this ripping filled a sizeable carton. The youngsters, meantime, were engaged in examining their gifts as the remains were toted to the garage.

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Christmas morning of 1952 came alive early on Weatherwax Road in Elba. Tina, Danny and Judy were ready for the day before their parents, who had stayed up late putting the finishing touches on the gifts. The whole crew was ready for food before the opening of the presents. Finally the moment had arrived to discover what had been so long awaited.

The array was welcomed with hats, mittens, scarves and jackets. Shiny boots were a real hit. Some dolls and trucks rounded out the children's share. Everything was appreciated, even the wrappings in which they appeared.

Care was exercised in the removal of the coverings in which the gifts were nestled. Loosening the wrappings was calculated to preserve intact the pretty paper in which they first appeared. Opening one present at a time helped to keep to keep the process moving. The old black flatiron was kept warm on he back of the oil fired kitchen range to smooth out any wrinkles. A special box was kept to hold the reprocessed sheets and partial sheets for reuse. Commendation was given for skill in removing the covering, especially keeping an entire sheet whole. The accumulated wrapping was carefully stored in readiness for the coming years use.


In the celebration of Christmas, keep the exhilaration present, for children's sake.