Thursday, May 31, 2012

Jessica is home

For a few days Jessica will be visiting before she embarks on a summer of activities in preparation for entering Duke University the end of July. After graduation ceremonies and attending a cousin's wedding, she and River visited friends in San Antonio, returning to Baton Rouge Sunday, then coming home Wednesday night.  She will have a few days before attending Annual Conference of the Methodist Church beginning Sunday.  She will be an official delegate of University Methodist Church.  She will return to Baton Rouge as youth director intern for the church.

Her summer will be busy as she carries on her job and finds an apartment near Duke and prepares to move there.  She will take time to preach at Christ United Methodist Church on Father's Day.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Runner-up in Rooster fighting

When I was in high school, the state required four years of physical education to graduate, and in grammar school we had periods of supervised physical activity.  One activity I remember was rooster fighting. That involves folding arms across the chest and hitting your opponent with your shoulder.

In a particular class the teacher had us draw two big circles on the ground, one for  the boys and the other for the girls.  It was natural for the largest boys to immediately go at each other.  I used quick movements and trickery and soon we were down to me and another boy.  I let him push me to the edge of  the ring, moved aside and nudged him from the ring, becoming champion.

Oh, but the game wasn't yet over; the teacher matched me against the champion of the girls.  My opponent was a big, busty girl, my head reaching only to her bosom..  She struck me with her shoulder; I moved back, and she hit me again.  I declined to strike her with my shoulder and was quickly pushed out of the ring, leaving her as class champion and me the object of boos and catcalls.

Slype -- wonderful, fun, cruel

Hundreds of miles may separate you but by Skype you can see your grandson Oliver walk across the room at nine months; your granddaughter share a popsickle with her brother, and hear her say I love you.  But you can't hug the children when they open their arms trying to get and give a hug through the screen.  That's the cruelty of communicating by Skype.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Veterans seeking compensation

I would be the last person to oppose a wounded or otherwise needy veteran not receiving deserved compensation, but I find staggering the report that 45 per cent of veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have applied for disability pay.

This far exceeds the percentage of veterans of other wars asking for compensation. That includes the Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea and World War II. There may be several reasons for this,  including the type of war being fought with many servicemen losing limbs, a higher survival rate of wounded, or the bad economy with few jobs available for those with handicaps.

Even so, with almost half of the l.6 million who served in Iraq and Afghanistan seeking compensation for injuries, the funds are getting low and the VA is lagging in meeting claims. 

I think I speak for many World War II veterans who ended the war with eagerness and optimism for the future.  We had survived the depression and the war and were welcomed home with benefits of the GI Bill awaiting us.  Veterans of today may not feel as optimistic about their future. It is our duty to make certain those returning veterans are treated fairly and can be as optimistic about the future as we were.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Remember Memorial Day

Take advantage of this Memorial Day weekend to remember those who gave their lives for this country and the  liberties we take for granted.  Try to find the opportunity to do something kind and helpful to those Gold Star family members.

Although it is not part of the meaning of Memorial Day, it will be good to keep in mind wounded and ill veterans who may be lonely, at home or in a VA hospital, and who will appreciate a visit or even a card letting them know they are not forgotten.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Will newspapers survive?

Or will they join clay tablets on the dust heap of history?  Okay, that is taking too far the response to the announcement that the venerable New Orleans Times-Picayune will go from publishing daily to three times a week.  Founded in 1837, the Picayune has chronicled not only life of New Orleans but has had tremendous influence on Louisiana government and  the state.

As a former newspaperman I am especially sad to see  that  newspapers have come to be a minor player in the presentation of news.  I subscribe to the Shreveport Times out of habit but I spend only a few minutes with it each day and certainly do not get national news from it.  Television  challenged newspapers by being first with news events but papers were relied on for the complete story.  Today, though, any and everybody can go on the internet and become a news source.

I think back to my time at LSU years ago.  The Field House had the Picayune, the Morning Advocate, and other morning papers.  By noon copies of the New Orleans State Times and the Item were available. As LSU fans we had a feast of sports articles to enjoy.  Now,  students turn to the computer and the I-pad for their news.  Change comes and we must adapt, but it still makes me sad to see old friends or old enemies pass away.

Pentecostals and speaking in tongues

Still in Texas but nearing Louisiana we passed a very large church with the sign Pentecostal.  No surprise - along with Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, the Pentecostals are one of the fastest  growing religious denominations in America, and they have many churches.

That's not the way it was when I was a youth.  Our community had two churches, Methodist and Baptist. We were Methodists but attended services at both churches.  During the summer Pentecostal groups would usually erect a brush arbor in which to hold a revival of one or two weeks.  Of course, we would attend; how much entertainment did we have in that rural community? I especially remember two services.

This year the arbor was about half a mile down the road from our house.  As soon as the car stopped, Eunice, my older sister, saw a friend,  jumped out of the car and rushed in.  She came back faster than she entered and hit a strand of barbed wire, cutting her leg.  Why her hurry?  Her friend had informed her, " Your dress is inside out."

Another year and another location I saw my first woman preacher and heard  a person speaking in tongues (glossolalia) for the first time.  The preacher walked the aisles and preached and spoke in tongues. Whether there was someone to interpret, as Paul advises, I do not recall.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Comment would be welcome

My niece Allison told me Saturday that she is a regular reader  of this blog but wonders why are there are few comments.  Most comments I have received have been from family members of  former shipmates on the USS Pickens. Checking statistics ( I don;t know how they are compiled)  they show 154 page views and 6 comments  on a post on the Pickens at Okinawa.  Two comments responded to a post on Iwo Jima.

Both of those items were also posted on Tiger Droppings and reached thousands of readers and dozens of comments.

No, but I play one on TV

"Are you a lawyer?" the extremely angry man shouted at me sarcastically.  I responded that I was  not a lawyer but had studied law of the press and had a pretty good idea that what he wanted me to publish was libelous.

The battle was very hot  between those who wanted head offices of  Claiborne Electric Co-operative to remain in Homer and those who wanted to move it to Farmerville.  A decision would be made by board members who would be elected at the annual meeting soon to be held in Homer.  Both sides had valid reasons in their favor. Homer leaders were largely responsible for starting and building the Co-op, which in its early years got its power from the Homer Light and Water Department.  On the other hand, the Town of Farmerville bought its power from the Co-op.

Few members attended annual meetings and Farmerville, taking advantage of this, had organized secretly but the plans leaked out. Thousands attended the meeting; Homer kept the offices and has ever since.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How quickly we forget

Tuesday, May 8, was the 67th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.  World War II was officially over in Europe, but much fighting was yet to be done  in the South Pacific.

If there was significant recognition of this anniversary I missed it.  Last year in my blog I asked that we remember the day, but this year even I forgot it.  Memorial Day is coming up this weekend; please, let us remember those who died in all the wars, giving their lives that we might live in liberty.

Now Hiring

To a job hunter those words can only be bettered by 'you're hired!" Both have been seen less and less as the Obama policies have dominated. However, driving in Texas from Dallas to Logansport Sunday I saw a number of Now Hiring signs including one on a manufacturing plant in Nacogdoches. That was Texas. This morning on my way to the pain doctor I saw Granger Ford is hiring service technicians.  Only a few people would qualify there but on the way home I saw on a big Burger King sign the words "Now Hiring."   That a fast food joint is adding workers may not  merit a headline, but this is the first time I've noticed  this sign in many months.  Could the economy be improving just a bit?

Wedding becomes a reunion

Our week did not end with Jessica's graduation.  We left Saturday morning  for Houston to attend the wedding of Christopher Cascio and Mlee Mains. The  ceremony was pleasant, reverent, and well attended. Reception followed, and it was here that Carol, mother of the groom, introduced us to many of her friends, who, she said, wanted to meet members of her family.  Several people said we had met on some other occasion but I didn't recall. We renewed our acquaintance with Frank's sisters.

We enjoyed not only the wedding and reception but having the time to visit  family members.  Since some of us live long distances apart, we haven't visited that often.  Now that many of us are at least semi - retired and can  afford to travel (something not always so) we have to overcome or overlook health limitations.  Again, we did enjoy the time we were able to spend together.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Will jobs await these talented graduates?

This question dominated my thoughts as I watched hundreds of new graduates march across the stage during the diploma ceremony for the College of Humanities and Social  Sciences at  Maravich Assembly Center Friday afternoon.  Obviously, students had given this much thought, also. English majors had added secondary education to their studies hoping to increase their job opportunities by qualifying to teach.  Sadly, some schools are being closed, such as Athens in Claiborne parish; courses are being dropped and teachers are being laid off.  Even so, a college education is valuable.  Some will go on to law school or other post-graduate studies; some will enter military  service or government.  I hope the economy will rebound and opportunities will open for them and all our young just entering the real world.

We attended two exercises Friday.  Commencement began at 9 a.m. for all graduates.  Faculty and graduates marched in and those receiving doctor of philosophy degrees were recognized. Although there was a speaker, this was a service that could have been skipped, and many  did so. Diploma ceremonies for colleges were held at various times during the day, with that for the College of  Humanities and Social Sciences at 4 p.m. Many grads skipped this service, electing to have their diplomas sent to them.

As Jessica crossed the stage to receive her diploma, along with recognition of honors, three days of activities came to a close.  We had accompanied her to a dinner Wednesday hosted by Nancy  Clark, dean of the Honor College,which  recognized Jessica and three others who had completed the first ever LaSal program of leadership and service. Thursday afternoon Honor  College students walked across the stage to receive cords 
that indicated honors they had earned.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What a week this is

It's not possible but it is -- four years ago seems like only weeks, we attended Jessica's graduation from Caddo Magnet High School.  Now we are heading to Baton Rouge in two hours to begin participating in a three-day graduation process from LSU.

It begins at 6 this evening with a dinner with the dean of the Honors College. Jen and three other students, along with parents, will attend as the students will be recognized for having completed the four-year Lasalle program, which involved service and leadership.

Honors College graduation will be at 1 p.m. Thursday in the  theater of  the Music and Dramatic Arts department.

Two services are to be observed Friday. At 9 in the morning will e commencement with speeches and awarding of diplomas.  At 4 p.m. Jessica will formally graduate from her college. These services will be held in the Maravich center.

Jessica will remain in Baton Rouge this summer to continue serving the youth of Trinity Methodist Church.

Making this weekend even more exciting will be the birthday celebrations of Matt and Jason Sunday. We will be in Houston Saturday to attend the wedding of nephew Christopher Cascio.

Now, support LSUS as it deserves

The all-out effort to "merge" Louisiana Tech and LSU-Shreveport has been abandoned, at least for one year. Mr. Lombardi, the LSU president who refused to support his school,   has been fired and the LSU system has retained the Shreveport school.

Now the ball is in your court, members of the LSU board.  Give LSUS  what it needs to be the type of university this area requires  and deserves. Yes, we are in a time of financial hardship.  But, truthfully, haven't we always had to spend our funds wisely to provide the best education we can afford?  Just treat LSUS fairly; that's all we ask.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cluttered desk or neat desk?

You desk jockeys -- are you a cluttered, messy desk person or do you keep a neat, clean desk?  And does it mean anything about you?  I kept a cluttered desk with the surface inches deep in papers, books and what have you.  I had an excuse; I was a newspaper editor and they are known for keeping stacks of  articles they are writing and subjects for articles they might write next week or next year.  I saw a picture of the desk of the editor of one of the Atlanta newspapers and his was so cluttered mine couldn't compare.  At least I didn't have apple cores on my desk.

I had a friend whose desk top was almost clean with no more than one piece of paper on it at a time.  How he functioned I do not know.  He was  a neatness freak; he allowed no one to smoke or eat in his car, and you  better have clean shoes.  His family complained that he took an hour and a half to take a shower.  We were so different, but good friends.

O for a thousand tongues to sing

0 for a thousand tongues to sing
my Great Redeemer's praise,
the glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of his grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
assist me to proclaim,
to spread through all the earth abroad
the honors of thy name.

No one would consider me an expert on great literature, but in my opinion this hymn is the greatest poem ever penned by Charles Wesley  He wrote it in celebration of the first anniversary of his conversion to Christianity. What we   now  sing as the first verse was the seventh stanza in his original poem.

Some Methodist churches sing stanzas of the song every Sunday.  When we sang it on Mother's Day, it was the first time in months.  Hopefully, it won't be that long before we sing it again.

Oliver's first steps

 Not important nationally but still a major event.  Grandson  Oliver Roy took his first steps Sunday, Mother's Day.  He had been  pulling himself up and letting go to stand free for several days.  He walked at eight and a half months, several days earlier than his daddy, Mar.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Just a couple of notes

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers.  Yes, I know I'm a day early. Better than a day lat

Yesterday was a bad day for me and  this morning seemed to be the same. I was nervous and weak; My blood pressure was high and I realized I had not taken my pills.  It was still high at 2 p.m. but it is much better now.

Got two things accomplished today; picked up my dry cleaning and picked up my medicine from the pharmacy.  That's an improvement over yesterday and today at 5 I feel very well;

Friday, May 11, 2012

Talk of Great Depression not happy

The Great Depression is not a happy memory for those who lived through it.  A poster on Tiger Droppings  asked to hear from anyone who might remember hearing their grandparents relate what they experienced during this time.  His remarks proved he has no historical  knowledge of that time when he said he knew Hoover caused the depression. He needs to read a few books and become a little bit  better informed.  No one man, night even the world's most famous engineer of the time who was also known as the "Great Humanitarian:" could throw the world into a depression and inflation.

Actually, a depression followed almost immediately after the end of the first World War but when there was no response with government programs, it was over with in about two years.  However, the effects of the war and the world-wide flu epidemic pushed  Europe and the United States into a depression.  Inflation was so rampart in Eastern Europe that it took a wheel barrow load of money to buy a loaf of bread.

Unemployment in the US was as high as 30 per cent and at that time most families had only one  earner. Effects were different for people in cities and those on farms.  I had  a friend whose family lived in New York and was forced to get their food from garbage cans. His younger sister starved to death.

We (our family) would have avoided much of the suffering from the depression had not the bank closed, taking all the money that the crops had brought in that year.  Money was so scarce that at times I could not get a penny to buy a pencil. You  may remember my story of needing a nickel for a coping saw.

Many new government agencies were formed; some seemed to help for a time, but they  eventually harmed efforts of the private sector to create job, and the depression got worse every year until World War II put people to work.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I question the merger

Let me acknodledge first off that all I know about the proposed Louisiana Tech (merger)  takeover of LSU Shreveport is from the local media, and that is not much. That's one of the problems with this proposal. There are many questions and I haven't seen any answers.  How will this benefit Louisiana Tech? How will it benefit LSUS? What will be the benefits to Shreveport and surroundig area?  This is if there are any benefits.

I was on the staff of the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce in the 1970's when the primary effort was to make LSU Shreveport into a four-year university.  Shreveport officials, the chamber, and other community leaders worked diligently and eventually were successful in spite of opposition primarily from Louisiana Tech.  That opposition  never slackened and LSUS had to battle to protect  its ability to grant certain graduate degrees this community needed.

Over a period of several years I took l graduate courses in history and liberal arts though limited by health problems. I  am positive that the history department was as competent as any in this state, but because of Tech's opposition, it was unable to award a masters in history. I enjoyed the contact I had with other students and the faculty.  I cannot remember any  student who was not working part or full time while pursuing a degree.

One of my sons got his undergraduate, masters and certification degrees at LSUS. This was possible only because a four-year university is located in Shreveport.

Many  more investigations and studies should be done before the drastic action of a "merger" is undertaken.

The less than perfect Mother's Day gift.

I had ordered the painting "Legends of the South"  by Mort Kunstler and thought if it arrived in time I would give  it to Jen as a Mother's Day present.  Well, it was delivered late Tuesday afternoon, She arrived shortly after I had unwrapped it, and I called to her,  "I've  got you your   Mothers Day present."  She pointed out that it is not yet Mother's Day, but I answered that she will be in Baton Rouge helping her brother and sister-in-law celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

I presented her with the beautiful picture; she looked at it and laughed. Not a laugh of delight but if a laugh can be sarcastic her's was.

The gift problem for Mother's Day is not solved.  I guess I'll get her a new iron, or maybe she'd love a George Foreman grill.

(Just a note.  The picture is great and accompanying the print are two old stamps and a worn three dollar bill of Confederate money.  For the price I paid, I expected a 30 dollar bill, or  at least a 10.)

Monday, May 7, 2012

"I'm hit! I'm going down!"

That cry is something I'll never forget.

I think it was our second night at Iwo Jima.  The USS Pickens  had landed some of our Marines but the Japanese had opposed the landings so severely we still had many men and much  materiel to put ashore.  Now General Quarters had been called and we were crowded into the radar shack listening to the voices coming over the TBS.  All ships had been ordered to make smoke, eliminating visibility but not affecting radar, and ships like ours with no ability to fight opposing air craft, had been ordered to leave the area and return in the morning.

Suddenly over the TBS we heard a terror-filled voice -- "I'm hit! I'm hit!  I'm going down!"  The voice was young, as one would expect.  On board ship we felt protected; with the exception of beach parties our closet feeling of the horrors of the battle was the steady arrival of wounded Marines to be treated on our auxiliary hospital ship.

That young pilot's cry of hopelessness brought the war closer to me than anything that had happened before that time.


Harvard? You mean THE Harvard?

I never thought the word Harvard and the  name ofany relative of mine would appear in the same sentence, unless the discussion was about Harvard beets.  I learn, though, that Peter Hickman, my great nephew, is graduating from high school in May and will attend Harvard College with plans to concentrate in economics with a focus in math.  Congratulations, Peter. Commencement exercises are at 8 p.m. Friday, May 18.

Jen and I, with other family members, will that day be attending  exercises at LSU, where daughter Jessica will be graduating with college honors and a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, and a minor in leadership development.  She has accepted a full scholarship to attend seminary at Duke University, pursuing a masters of divinity degree.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Job Picture Gets Worse

The unemployment rate improved slightly from 8.2 to 8.1, and you can bet you last bowl of oatmeal it will be below 8 by the time of the election.   Let President Obama boast but this statistic is meaningless. What counts is job creation  and number of people at work.  Only 115,000 jobs were added in April, and fewer people are working at any time since 1983, more than a quarter of a century ago.  

The reason we have so many people out of work is because of the Obama government. As an official of the Keystone Pipeline said, one man --Obama -- is costing tens of thousand of jobs by opposing the pipeline. Regulations by the EPA and other departments discourage the creation of jobs and in  some cases force people out of work.  In addition to people who are too discouraged to continue to seek work, many are in part time jobs that pay minimum wage.  Conditions will get worse if Obama is re-elected.  Our only hope is to replace him. No one could do worse.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Social Security troubles get worse

My wife got a statement from social security and before she opened it I warned her not to count on the rosy predictions of how much her payments will be at retirement. I have advocated that social security should be honest and reduce the projected benefits; the money won't be there for future retirees.

The Social Security Board of  Trustees  in its 2012 report  said the trust funds will be exhausted in 2033. 
That's three years sooner than was predicted in 2011.  Yes, in just one year,  projections of the fund's life have been reduced by three years.  A lot of actions need to be taken to save social security.  Why not let  future retirees be given a more accurate and truthful statement of what their payments will be?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My doubts about Afghanistan

Whether Obama's visit to Afghanistan accomplished his purpose of helping his campaign is yet to be seen, butt it was followed by seven America military men being killed by the Taliban.  News media has played it down but April was one of the bloodiest months of the war.

I share with almost all Americans a desire for the United States to have a clear goal when we go to war and do everything possible to achieve that goal.  While I am going always to support our country in war, I am beginning  to doubt that we are clear on why we are  in Afghanistan and also doubtthat our efforts there are successful.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

No fear of hard work

Jessica complains that the stories I relate, especially of my childhood, always end up on a sad note. Well, here's one that ends happily

Sometimes I wondered if our dad ever understood how hard we worked and how little we were appreciated    He was reading a letter from his sister, Aunt Jenny, where she said Sally, the youngest of three daughters and probably eight or nine  at this time, was working in the garden for five cents an hour.  Sally kept running into the house every four or five minutes to check the clock and see how much money she had made. Dad said five cents wasn't much, stunning us, who would have enjoyed five cents for l2 hours of work.

When the kids were small we needed extra help hoeing the cotton and corn.  Dad would recruit four or five from Minden, paying them 75 cents a day  plus a soft drink.  They worked l0 hours a day; we worked l2.

Jessica, see how this ends happily.  All eight of us grew up not afraid of hard work and appreciative of money and against being wasteful.  Our four boys and especially our daughter, have always being willing to work hard.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day is hot

My calendar says this is May l, but it felt more like June l or even July l this afternoon.  I was out in the sun for only a few minutes during the hottest part of the afternoon and I suffered.  We may be looking toward a hot, dry summer again.  It depends on sunspot activity.