Sunday, April 19, 2015

My Story Part 3 – Grandma



  

As the twig is bent so grows the tree. --  My grandma was a powerful force on my formative years and my life took a certain direction because of her. She was a rough old gal who cussed like a sailor, dipped snuff and used a 3 pound coffee can for a spittoon. She was loud, opinionated, and eccentric. She was my cheerleader.  She was in my corner.   I adored her. I have always felt that she singled me out from her 9 other grand kids for special attention. Yet, I think all the others felt the same. On Saturday mornings my sisters and I would go grocery shopping with grandma. We could help ourselves to candy bars and eat them right there in the store. We gave the wrappers to grandma and she paid for them at the check out. Once home with the groceries it was soda floats for all of us. She bought orange soda, strawberry, cola , and root beer in those big Mother's Pride bottles and we had our favorite over ice cream in a tall glass. We slurped them up with a new invention, the “flex” straw.




Feeling special didn't exempt me from suffering the consequences of my actions like when I and my two cousins were playing with squirt guns at Grandma's house and made the mistake of squirting her.  She broke our guns and laughed at us when we cried. Once we climbed up her peach tree and made so much commotion the hard green peaches began falling to the ground. She picked them up and knocked us out of the tree with them. Our love for her was unfazed.
Because of my precocious reading ability Grandma bought me a Little Golden Book every week.
Over the years we spent a lot of time at the library. My favorite book from those times is The Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton Porter. That book was so real to me because it takes place at the sea shore and I could visualize the story unfolding on the sands of  Hermosa Beach where I lived and the Palos Verdes peninsula  nearby. I've recommended this book to the the grand kids but the Little Scout is no match for Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen.

                                                          Redondo Beach public library

 We went through a science fiction phase and our favorite from those years was The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. We talk about that book for years. As I grew older she introduced me to books like Cannery Row and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell. I was finding books on my own by then and recommended them to Grandma. She got a kick out of Phillip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint. We had long discussions about books by Henry David Thoreau, Alan Watts, and Robert Ardrey.

Palos Verdes Peninsula


Ada Slay 1949, my grandma



Historic Perspective:

When we were reading The Keeper of the Bees my uncle Bob was fighting in Korea.

The year we read Portnoy's Complaint  Neal Armstrong walked on the moon.


(To be continued)


note: This project has turned out to be more difficult than I first imagined. When you start digging in the memory closet you find things unthought of for years. So, I'll have to decide whether to bring out the skeletons or just push them back into the corner of the closet..


Friday, April 17, 2015

Perhaps this sounds very simple, but simple things are always the most difficult.  In actual life it requires the greatest discipline to be simple, and the acceptance of oneself is the essence of the moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook upon life.

C.G. Jung

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

My Story (part 2)



I suppose before I begin my story I should establish the context from which my life evolved and took shape. I was born in 1945 a few days after atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and the day before the Japanese announced their surrender to the Allied Forces. The war that brought employment to my family was grinding to a stop and leaving our family as well as many others without resources. The last job in Oklahoma my father worked at was spreading grease over the fuselages and wings of the bombers that had been manufactured at the Douglas Aircraft factory at Tinker's Field in Oklahoma City. The grease was to preserve the skin of the airplanes that would never see action because the war and my father's job had come to an end.
An uncle who had also worked for Douglas Aircraft learned that the company was still in operation and hiring workers in Long Beach, California so he traveled to the sunshine state and was soon working and doing well. When they heard the news my parents and grand parents started making plans to make the move. In 1947 with my grand parents and an aunt driving a Model A Ford pick up truck loaded with belongings and my dad driving a 1933 Ford sedan they set out for a new life. The sedan broke down in Arizona and Dad had to sell it and buy passage for the family on a Greyhound bus. He continued the trip in the truck with Grandpa and Grandma and my mother managed the long bus ride to get me and my three sisters to California with the help of her younger sister.


A fourth sister was born in 1948


Our life has become so economic and practical in its orientation that, as you get older, the claims of the moment upon you are so great, you hardly know where the hell you are, or what it is you intended. You are always doing something that is required of you. Where is your bliss station? You have to try to find it.
Joseph Campell

Sunday, April 12, 2015

My Story



It's time for me to write my story. I'll be 70 years old soon and since I'm experiencing short term memory loss and the general befuddlement that comes with the passing of years I think it best to put to paper things that I've thought and experienced over the years before the inexorable mental and physical frailties take their toll. I've heard people say that they wished their grand parents or parents had written down the history of the family before they died. So many valuable stories fade away and are forgotten. Very few families have a written history. What I want to write is not a linear memoir or autobiography set in chronological order, but a mental connecting the dots of my life and my perception of the world around me that would give me, and any curious family member or reader, some idea of how I got to this place in life, both geographically and psychologically. So, in the coming weeks and months I'll be gathering my thoughts in to a semblance of order. Maybe I'll throw in a photo or two.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015



"Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God's service when it is violating all his laws."

-- John Adams

Gracen and Jenna's workshop



Dorothy bought this table at an auction to display potted plants on the
front porch, but it has become a place where Gracen and Jennna
create delectable dirt meals or scientific formulas.

Thursday, April 02, 2015



There will be a time when loud-mouthed, incompetent people seem to be getting the best of you. When that happens, you only have to be patient and wait for them to self destruct. It never fails.
 
-- Richard Rybolt

April Blooms

Quince


Pink Dafodils


I think these are called Jonquils

Tulips







Wednesday, March 25, 2015

First Storm of the Season





Big thunder storm spun out several tornadoes in NE Oklahoma.  Pretty scary.  At least it's lots of water for the potatoes and onions we planted.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Gracen signs up for preschool

Today Tara and Jarrett enrolled Gracen at Maryetta in Stilwell.  She will start her preschool class in August.


Jarrett and Gracen in front of the school.

"Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God's service when it is violating all his laws."

-- John Adams


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage. But if we don't practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us -- and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along.

--Carl Sagan, The Fine Art of Baloney Detection

Parallel Occurrences

parallel occurrences

There are historical events that we don't always connect to each other. For example we often think that when the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620 they found a relatively uninhabited land (except for the indians), but the Spanish explorer Coronado had claimed what is now New Mexico in the year 1540, and Santa Fe was established as its capitol in 1610.

The Lewis and Clark expedition set out in 1803 to explore the vast, uninhabited (except for the indians) west, yet California had been claimed for England by Sir Francis Drake in 1579, and the city of Los Angeles was dedicated by Father Junipero Serra in 1781 with 44 original settlers.

The day general Custer and his men were massacred at Little Big Horn, the St. Louis Cardinals (known then as the Brown Stockings) were playing baseball in St. Louis.

I did some research on my own family to find out what historical events were happening at the birth and death of my ancestors. Here is what I found:

Peter. O. Blue was born in Scotland in 1745, the same year "Bonnie Prince Charlie" Stuart defeated the British in battle and advanced toward Derby. He was defeated at Culloden the following year. Peter came to America in 1771, 5 years before the Revolutionary War. He died in 1828, the year Andrew Jackson was elected president, Alexandre Dumas wrote "The Three Musketeers", Jules Verne was born, Webster's dictionary was published, and Gilbert Stuart, the painter of George Washington's portrait died.

Peter's son Malcom Blue was born in 1785, the year Mozart performed the Six "Hadyn" String Quartet, and the seismograph was invented. When Malcom died in 1866, Dostoevsky wrote "Crime and Punishment", H.G. Wells was born, Degas painted the ballet series, and Alfred Nobel invented dynamite.

Malcom' son, James Daniel Blue was born in 1838, the year Queen Victoria was crowned; Dickens published "Oliver Twist", William Clark, from the Lewis & Clark expedition died; Great Britain had 90 naval ships, Russia 50, France 49, and the U.S. 15. When James Daniel died in 1908, LBJ was born, Ian Fleming (author of James Bond stories) was born; General Motors Corp. was formed, and Ford produced the 1st Model T.

James Daniel's son Homer Blue was born in 1881, the year that James Garfield was assassinated; Picasso was born; the population of London was 3.3 million, Paris 2.2 million, New York, 1.2 million, and Tokyo, 800,000. When Homer died in 1952, Eisenhower was elected as president of the U.S.; the Korean War was in progress; Ernest Hemingway wrote "The Old Man and the Sea"; Norman Vincent Peale published "The Power of Positive Thinking"; Movie: High Noon; popular songs: "I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Clause", "It Takes Two to Tango", "Your Cheatin' Heart"; first hydrogen bomb exploded.

Homer's son Homer G. Blue (my father) was born in 1915 at the start of WWI, that year Booker T. Washington died; Einstein postulated the General Theory of Relativity; the first transcontinental phone call was made. When my dad died in 1985, Ronald Reagan began his second term, John Irving wrote "The Cider House Rules", Garrison Keillor wrote "Lake Wobegon Days"; the Academy Award for best picture went to "Amadeus"; and the U.S. deficit reached 130 billion dollars.

One week before I was born in 1945 a nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima; also that year George Orwell published "Animal Farm"; the boxer of the year was Rocky Graziano, and the Empire State building was struck by a B-25 bomber.

I first posted this in August 2005

Friday, March 20, 2015

Cowbirds

First it was brewer's black birds with blue heads; today we have a flock of cowbirds with brown heads.