Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year to all!

May you enjoy health, prosperity and the love of Jesus Christ. And may our great and beloved nation reject  false leadership and turn to the right path, the one that ensures national security, freedom and economic success.

One year ends and another begins

Yes, 2011 has less than six hours to go and a new year will begin.  Looking back on this past year I prefer to dwell on the good and lay aside the unpleasant.  We gained a family member, Oliver Roy being born in August to Mark and Julie.  We've enjoyed those three and Lily during the holidays.  Jessica will soon finish her studies at LSU and enter a seminary, the location not yet decided.

Taken as a whole we should be thankful for enjoying good health.  We've lost some friends who have gone on to the fate that all of us will face.

On the national and world scene, 2012 could be a disaster.  England is fearful of depression coming again, and we know many European countries are in dire fiscal states.  As for the United States a sentence I wrote in January of 2010 is even more accurate today. I asked,  "Can our country stand another year like 2009?  Trillions  have been misspent and  health and cap and trade are forced upon us.  Who is going to pay the huge debt we are amassing?"

I hold to a hope and belief that we can recover if we elect a president and a congress that will keep our country safe and allow private industry to grow and create jobs.  It may be too late for us if we keep the current administration.

As Obama threatened -- utility prices to escalate

Electric utility rates are to climb steadily because of new regulations imposed by the EPA (read Obama), according to a recent announcement by AEP Swepco.  Sometimes politicians mean what they say.  Obama said early in his administration that he wants utility rates to double and gasoline prices to escalate. He is trying his best to bring these changes about.

The president threatened to end generation of electricity by coal-fired plants.  He explained that the industry might not be destroyed by law but would be regulated and taxed out of existence.

We need a sane energy policy, one that would promote the development of domestic sources and reduce the need for foreign oil and gas.  Obama opposes every policy that would lead to the creation of jobs.  The future of this nation is in danger.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

We enjoy Josh's Christmas lights

We journeyed to son Josh's house Tuesday night to see his Christmas lighting display.  A combination of lights are synchronized with music played over the radio.  It turns out to be quite a spectacle.  It required him to devote hours, and I'm sure dollars, but it gave a lot of people enjoyment.

Granddaughter enjoys turnip greens -- smart kid

Turkey, baked ham, yams and all that goes with them make holidays special, but one can get tired  of them, so my wife wasn't surprised when I called her at the grocery story and asked her to get some turnip greens or steak-- something different.  She got and cooked both.  Not everyone in my family likes greens but I looked at my two-year-old granddaughter and she was shoveling them in by fork load.

I was an adult before I could enjoy mustard, turnip or collards.  I remember a day when my dad, my brother and I had been sawing wood all day.  Dad said, "I'm so hungry I could eat turnip greens tonight."  I thought a moment and surprised my self  by saying, "I can too."

My youngest sister, Carol, accompanied by a friend, made her first trip home from LSU.  They sat down for supper and Carol turned to mama and asked,  " Don't you have any turnip greens?"  Before this she had always refused to eat them. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The story of Jessica's cat

My two year old granddaughter Lily and I were feeding Sarah the cat this morning, calling her from the garage from where she walked slowly and sedately to greet us.  It occurred to me that Sarah is no young kitten.  She came to us as a stray more than l5 years ago, obviously pregnant, and the kids prevailed on us to keep her, making her a home in the utility room. (Years later after we consigned her to the outdoors, she makes an effort to dash into the house when a door is opened.)

Lily and I returned to the living room and I asked for help in remembering what had happened to the litter of kittens. Josh, Mark and Jessica together re-called their names -- first born was named Uno, and others took the names of Dharma, Precious, Phantom, Poptart, and Runt.  One by one they were adopted,  leaving two, Poptart and Uno.Then there was one as Poptart was careless and tragically was killed by my car. 

The following Sunday I was puzzled when several people who had attended early service greeted me with "I'm sorry to hear about Jessica's cat.."   It became clear when at the 11 o'clock service during the part of the service dedicated to Joys and Concerns, prayers were asked for Jessica's cat.  She was about five at the time, 16 years ago.

Sarah had no more litters; we saw to that, but she is still around, almost like a dog as she always goes to meet us whether we arrive walking or in a car. Oh, Uno stayed with us awhile but never returned from one of his nocturnal rounds.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all

Two Christmases ago my daughter Jessica set up this blog for me.  I had no idea I would be able to continue  it, or what I would say in it, but it has continued.  I have told events from my childhood, from school and from my time in the Navy. 

I have  dome some editorializing; I have warned that these overly generous retirement plans cannot be fulfilled, and I have urged the changing of entitlement programs -- social security, medicare, and medicaid -- to save them for future generations.  The government must get spending under control or the nation will go bankrupt. I fear that our elected leaders lack the courage to make the painful changes needed.

I have written often that we must allow more drilling for oil and gas to enable this nation to be self-sufficient in energy.  This and other needed programs cannot be achieved with Obama as president.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How Can It Feel Like Christmas Without Carols?

Last year at this time I commented on the wonderful music program performed by the church choir.  This year I've never been as disappointed by a church service.  A program without familiar carols.  "We'll sing carols at the Christmas party," my wife promised.  Another disappointment.

Still, it is beginning to feel more like Christmas with  the arrival of  Mark and Julie with Lily and Oliver. 
Christmas giving should be for kids and for the needy.  For adults, I would favor stopping the practice of exchanging gifts.  Call me Grinch or any name you wish; that is how I feel.

We have the Christmas Eve services to look forward to, the traditional at 5 and the contemporary at11. We will have regular Sunday services Christmas day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I attend two funerals.

Two days ago I was commemorating December birthdays of three family members.  This morning I attended funerals of two members of Christ Methodist Church.  We said goodbye to Mary Louise Fratello, who would have been 95 January 11, and to  William Emmett Ward, 74.

Songs were the same at both services -- "In the Garden," and  "Hymn of Promise."

                       And he walks with me, and he talks with me,

                       and he tells me I am his own,
                       and the joy we share as we tarrry there,
                       none other has ever known.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tree at capital no longer a Christmas tree

The tall spruce tree has no reference to Christmas or to Jesus Christ.  It  has become an  Obama tree. with ornaments bearing his likeness.  This year's tree comes from California, where emphasis was on ornaments made mainly by students, who had been directed to emphasize re-cycling.  More and more, Christmas is being changed from its original meaning, celebrating the birth of Jesus.  We must not give in to the secular world but keep Jesus in our mind and heart.

Monday, December 19, 2011

December is month of birtdays.

I'm taking it easy and not blogging today, but I did want to recognize three birthdays.  Grandson Kyle is eight years old today.  Julie, daughter in law, will celebrate her birthday December 23 and sister Jerelyn Hickman will mark her birthday Christmas Eve.

October is another popular birthday month for our family, with brother Jesse and sisters Eunice and Louise being born that month.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Please, Mr., can I have my kite back?

Sounding like a boy pleading for his kite after it damaged a neighbor's roses or asking for his ball back after it broke a window, President Obama begged Iran to return the drone that landed in that country.  Never has the United States been so shamed, begging the leaders of a terrorist nation to give a toy back.

We have a lot of questions that need answers.  Was the drone spying on Iran, and if so, why?  Did Iran shoot it down or did they use cybernetics?  Are we continuing to use drones, and if so, are we taking steps to ensure they will not fall into hands of our enemies?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Improving the town was not without problems

The ballot had two propositions, a revenue bond issue to buy a new electric generator and to improve the electric distribution system, and a second bond issue for water system improvements.  The revenue issue for the electric power plant would not require a tax but would be paid for by growing usage.

Improvements to the water system included laying 12-inch water lines throughout the city, adding 500,000 gallons of elevated water storage and 500,000 of ground level storage, plus automating the system. Among the benefits were fire protection and  lower insurance rates.  Another benefit was that we would be able to retain Ludlow Plastics and its 200 jobs. Without those improvements the plant could not get insurance and would have to relocate.  The plant had retained insurance only upon my assurance that the town was in the process of providing a 12-inch water line to the plant and sufficient water in reserve.

I was proud of the way the water issue would be financed -- with a one dollar a month increase in water bills plus $l,000 a  month from Ludlow.

Homer Lions club, representing many community leaders, had endorsed the proposals, and at a club meeting former mayor Joe Robertson emphasized their importance and asked if anyone had heard of any opposition. No one had, and indications were a favorable vote seemed assured.  It wasn't.

As expected, turnout was light, and when the ballots were counted, each issue was defeated by about two votes. We soon discovered why.  The electric utility, hoping to cause the light plant to fail, had sponsored secret meetings to stir up opposition.

We called for another election, had a town meeting at city hall, and on election day civic leaders got on the phone and encouraged people to vote. Both proposals passed overwhelmingly even though the utility kept up its efforts, putting out false statements.

My problems were not ended.  As lines were laid and connected, some people would be without water for minutes, sometimes hours, and water would often be dirty.  When people don't have clean water, they get angry and they call the mayor to raise hell. At least, it happened that way with me. Of all the many capital improvements made during the time I was mayor, I take most pride in the water system.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christian singer brightens my morning

I've gotten over it, but I have never been so disappointed in a church service as I was Sunday. Each year the choir performs Christmas music  one Sunday in December.  Of all the great and familiar songs to choose from, the choir sang a selection no one knew.  I am all for being introduced to new songs, but I wanted at least some carols that have always brought joy.

Making up for this was my discovering, by accident, a 30-minute program  "White Christmas with Vern Jackson."  He is a wonderful Christian  singer and is well known, although I had never heard of him. I looked him up on the internet where he  has a web site and has available selections of his songs. 

While listening I was trying to finish addressing Christmas cards, almost a never ending task.  Some addresses are misplaced and as you add a name, some one else comes to mind and another card needs to be sent. I promise that if I can find three addresses I will call it complete.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A sister's early memory of when I left for the navy

With the goal of updating our Christmas card list, I was going through a box of cards from previous years when I came across old birthday cards, including some from my 80th birthday.  One from my sister Jerelyn had a note about some of her memories, including my leaving for the navy when she was a child.  I am citing that part of her note:

"An early memory I have is when you were going to the navy.  Daddy had taken you to McIntire  to get the bus.  Mama was upset and crying. I kept asking here what's wrong, and why is Roy leaving. I didn't understand what being in the navy meant."

Closing Straits of Hormuz an act of war

How often if I and many in industry and government called for the United States to be self-sufficient in energy and not be subject to whims of our enemies?  Iran has threatened to close the Straits of Homuz through which goes one sixth of the global consumption of petroleum.

President Obama continues to oppose opening more areas to drilling and is even opposing the Keystone pipeline which would bring energy from Canada.  One promise Obama made in his campaign was to increase the cost of utilities.  That has been accomplished.  Americans are paying more, especially  for electricity, but consider what it will cost if Obama succeeds in his desire to shut down the use of coal to fire electric generating plants. With Obama's policies to deal with, we don't need any other enemies.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Remembering a toy I did not receive

Remember the Christmas story of the boy who wanted an air rifle?  My story is similar to his, except he got the gun and I did not,  As much as I desired the air rifle I never told anyone directly.

One of the most enjoyed Christmas gifts I ever received was a three-year subscription to the magazine, "The American Boy."  It was a gift from a cousin, Prentiss Lowe, who was a generation older.  The back cover of the magazine was an ad for  Daisy air rifles.  It illustrated the Red Ryder, but it also advertised a Daisy rifle that sold for one dollar.  The ad advised leaving the magazine around where parents could see it and get the idea to buy it.  I would leave the magazine around with the ad on top, but no one got the message.

When my twins became old enough, no more than five, I made sure that they got an air rifle for Christmas.

Looking back, I am convinced that stories about naval midshipmen first got me thinking about the navy, including attending the Naval Academy.  That ambition was seemingly impossible; yet, when I was offered a fleet appointment I turned it down.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Monday following December 7,1941

We went to school Monday morning, recognizing that our lives  had changed forever.  Some students were still unaware of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and of course none of us  -- and no Americans -- knew for a long time about the extent of the damage and how it came about.

We filed into our home rooms and awaited the radio broadcast of the joint session of Congress.  We heard  President Roosevelt and his speech of  "a day that will live in infamy;"  Congress, with one dissenting vote, declared war not only against Japan but against Germany and all her allies.We were at war.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 7 -- the cost of being unprepared

Today is the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought us into World War II.  I remember that Sunday, being informed by some one in the family who had heard about it over the radio.  I as 15 at the time but I knew my life would be changed forever.

Our losses in men, ships and planes are listed in the Times and other newspapers today so I will not repeat them here.  But 70 years later many questions have never been answered.  We had almost no army but we believed the navy, our first line of defense, could protect us, and our leaders discounted intelligence that, when looked at later, appears clear that Japan was planning to attack us.

Yes, we had a navy, but why was so much of it anchored at Pearl and thus vulnerable to an attack.  Our dive bombers were ineffective against the  Japanese at the battle of the Coral Sea, but we held our own.  It was at the battle of Midway June 4-7 that the navy was victorious over the Japanese fleet and saved this nation, putting Japan on defense until its ultimate defeat.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why do we commemorate defeats?

Remember the Alamo; Remember Pearl Harbor; Remember 9/11.  All slogans we  remember to celebrate three of the greatest tragedies and defeats inflicted upon this nation.  Why not celebrate our victories more?

Yes, I know tomorrow is the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which launched us into a war with Germany and its allies on one front and with Japan on another. I will have something to say about the attack on Pearl tomorrow.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dispute on Iran -- Congress is right; Obama is wrong

Congress and the Obama administration are at cross purposes on how to treat Iran: Congress proposes stricter sanctions on Iran to halt the development of nuclear weapons; Obama prefers to rely on gentle lobbying.  An Obama spokesman fears tougher sanctions could lead to oil doubling to $200 a barrel, a blow to the weak economy and (left unsaid) politically unpopular. 

Better 200 dollar oil than the likely alternative.  Netanyahu, the Israel leader, is a reckless hot head and could at any moment launch a bombing attack on Iran, beginning a conflagration in the Mid-East that would make all the turmoil now look like a Sunday School picnic.  At a minimum the straits of Hormuz would be closed to us and oil from that region would be unavailable at any price.

This emphasizes once again how for national security we must develop our oil, gas, coal and nuclear energy to become self-sufficient. Obama, now on a 17-day vacation,has made no secret that he continues to be committed to solar and wind energy and against fossil fuels.  For our country's security if  not for the boost we  would get in job growth the president must remove the barriers to more drilling in more areas.  He should immediately grant permission for the Keystone pipeline to go forward. There is hope for the future. All of the Republican candidates for president are supporting development of our energy resources.

That magical red truck

My mother's unmarried sister, Dorothy, was our Santa for toys. One Christmas she gave me a red truck. It was quite a truck, metal not plastic, with rubber sidewall tires.  After I played with it a few minutes Mama took it and placed in her trunk, to "save" it.  I got to play with that truck very rarely.  Often my cousins, or even neighbor boys, would visit and get me to ask mama if we could play with the red truck.

That went on for years.  I don't remember if any other toy got that treatment, but  I expect that my total time playing with the truck could be measured in minutes rather than hours.  As years passed I grew too old to play with trucks, and I gave it as a Christmas gift to my younger brother, Jon.  The truck was saved no longer; Jon was never restricted in time playing with it.  Finally, it went where all trucks wind up, in the junk yard.

The gift of the wagon

I read that some company is offering for rent children's toys for Christmas giving. Not a bad idea.  Most kids today are gifted with an abundance of toys, especially if in addition to parents they have doting uncles and aunts. The kids, especially the younger children, excitedly receive the toys, play with them awhile, and soon grow tired of them.  In a few days some toys are broken and some are discarded.  A month later most can not name the toys they received.

On the other hand if you enjoyed only a few toys in your childhood,  you may be able to look back and remember them,   The first toy I remember was a wagon.  I don't know how old I was but I am sure I was not yet six.  Toys were rare after the bank failures of 1932, which took all our money.  I'm sure I was excited with  the wagon but I already had a wagon and rushed out to see it and compare it to my new wagon.  It was gone and my parents explained that it had been given to Santa so he could give it to another little boy and make his Christmas happy.  I could accept that, but I wished I could have seen them side by side.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December arrives; Christmas will be here before we are ready

Yes,   today is the first day of December; another year is almost history.  This is the time when we have more things to do than we have time for -- shopping, parties, sending Christmas cards, decorating outside and inside, shopping and more shopping ( for those who do it.  I leave that to my wife; I tell her that's why I married her, so I could avoid that hassle.  She actually enjoys shopping while I hate it.)

Last year I wrote about how Christmas slips up on a person and we never seem ready for it. Other holidays come in their turn and can be enjoyed without any problems.  I get criticism because I really do not enjoy Christmas.  Oh, I like some things about it, visits from family, programs at the church, Christmas music. And I no longer mind sending Christmas cards, although there is always the question of a short list or a long list. There are people you must send a card to and others where if you send to one person you must send to many others. Then there is the problem of which and how many worthwhile charities you will send money to.  This year, especially, needs are greater while economic problems make gifts smaller.  I call on every person and organization to do their best to help those who are in need.

Thoughts on my dog Pup

Yesterday, for no reason, I started thinking about my dog Pup.  That was his name; I never gave him another because he never grew to be a dog.  His mother was a little black dog that showed up one day at Johnson's Store where I worked.  I began to feed her and take up time with her and she made that her home.

When she had a litter I chose one and he became my dog, really attached to me.  I was gone to the navy for more than two years but when I returned he and I resumed our friendship. I set out to return to LSU after a visit home, walking to McIntire to thumb a ride to Minden and then to  take the train to Baton Rouge.  Pup walked with me, refusing to go back home.  He accompanied me across Highway 80 and stood beside me as I attempted to get a car to stop.  For some reason, maybe I made a move toward the road, Pup put his two front feet on the pavement.  A car swerved and hit him, killing him instantly.

I felt as if I had a hole in my heart, but there was nothing I could do.  I caught a ride and from the train station  phoned home to tell my folks about the tragedy.  When I got to Baton Rouge I heard from the family that Daddy had found Pup's body and buried him.  We had other dogs later, but they belonged to the family.  Pup was my dog and I grieved  for him and never became attached that way to another dog.