August 31, 2006
A famous Ohioan born down the road from me was the writer James Thurber. Everytime I hear his name, I am reminded of the line supposedly spoken by innumerable mothers to their sons when they requested a BB gun for Christmas or a birthday,
“No you cannot have a BB gun, you’ll shoot your eye out with it.”
Thurber’s turn toward writing and drawing was probably directly related to the incident when his brother shot him in the eye with an arrow while they were playing ‘William Tell’. He was partially blinded which left him on the sidelines of some games and sports, which in turn it is believed activated his imagination. What was unlucky for Thurber was lucky for us as he left us innumerable writings and drawings.
The other Ohio author I want to mention is Louis Bromfield, born in Mansfield Ohio. Bromfield’s books were extremely popular in the thirties and forties. He wrote prolifically in Paris before returning his family to America when the First World War was about to break out. He bought several run-down farms in a beautiful setting in an area called Pleasant Valley, and had a house built, calling it Malabar Farm. He continued writing best selling books, many of which were turned into movies. THE RAINS CAME, and MRS. PARKINGTON being two of the books turned into movies. He would write the screenplays of his novels for Hollywood. He was a gregarious man who made friends with many of the Hollywood people and invited them to come visit him at Malabar Farm, which they did. He could drink with the best of them. A famous wedding took place at the farm when Humphrey Bogart married Lauren Bacall in the big house as it was called.
Bromfield lived a life that would be envied by many. He was able to live where he wanted, and do what he wanted later in life and that was running the farm and speaking for conservation causes. All of this took plenty of money, so he would head to his typewriter and write another novel. Of course all this ended as all things must, but he had a long run and from all I know of him a hugely satisfying life.
August 30, 2006
I KNEW YOU BUT A MOMENT
By Jim Kittelberger
The glider swayed back and forth until finally, I was aware only of the motion and the small breeze it created as I surrendered to all but the pleasure of the moment.
My eyelids grew heavy, blinked, and closed.
I may have dozed, I don't know, until I became aware that I was again abiding in that place where what-ifs reign and hope is the last to go.
I sat in the silence of the afternoon, alone, thoroughly content, my mind a blank canvas until the familiar sound of locusts working the trees drew me back home.
The sun directly above my head told me it was noon and very warm.
Grass under my bare feet, a slingshot in my back pocket put the year at 1944, and I immediately felt the shattering loneliness return. Tears which I tried so hard to hide came unbidden to run down my cheeks.
I weep and remember.
My big brother Ned and I had sat together under this same big maple on the day he left.
He told me once again that he loved me, and when he came home from the war, he would
teach me how to throw a curve and all about the mysteries of girls, as he poked me with his elbow, and I blushed. Then he promised me he would be back safe and sound.
He lied to me.
I grieve every day of my life for my big brother Ned, for all that he has missed,
but in fact it is I for whom I grieve, for the times I could have had with him.
Ned abides with all his fellows who lived abbreviated lives, unfinished lives, unfulfilled lives, while we who knew them wonder why, as we weep once more.
Copyright Jim Kittelberger 2001.
August 29, 2006
Bits and pieces......
Some things just keep getting better. Flickr is one of them. Now I discover this morning on either del.icio.us or reddit that flickr now, or maybe has and I am just finding out about it, a blog. Flickr, the place I find a new background for my desktop, now has a place for me to hang out for a while and read a little background on some of its shots. http://blog.flickr.com/
The baseball season is almost over, and now my favorite team (Cleveland Indians) has discovered new talent and a way to win ball games. Alas some of us our doomed to keep repeating the old saw, wait till next year, but wait till next year.
Im reading Thomas Friedman's book, THE WORLD IS FLAT. I understand the concept, but have not figured out how any of it is good for the American people. Of course I understand how it is a boon for business owners. I have to pay my employee ten dollars an hour or I can outsource it and get it done for a dollar an hour. This is good for the other countries, but again how is this going to benefit the American people?
August 28, 2006
It was on this day in 1968 that riots erupted outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. It had already been one of the bloodiest years of the decade. That February, the North Vietnamese launched their devastating "Tet Offensive," which indicated that the Vietnam War was nowhere near over. Then, in April, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, sparking widespread riots. Two months later, Robert Kennedy was shot and killed at his victory party after the California primary.
In the wake of Robert Kennedy's murder, the Democratic Party establishment chose Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey as their candidate, but the anti-war faction of the party wanted Senator Eugene McCarthy. Thousands of college students and anti-war activists showed up at the convention to protest the choice of Humphrey and the Democratic Party's support of the war in Vietnam.
For the first two days of the convention, protesters shouted insults at the police and threw rocks and other objects. Then, on this day in 1968, the police responded by charging toward Grant Park where thousands of protestors were gathered, attacking everyone in their path with billy clubs and tear gas.
In his notebook that night, the reporter and historian Theodore White wrote, "The Democrats are finished." Hubert Humphrey lost the election to Richard Nixon that year. Before 1968, the Democrats had won seven of the nine presidential elections since 1932. In the ten presidential elections since 1968, Democrats have won only three.
August 25, 2006
Mary Hartline and Dagmar: Two blondes from early television who did quite well for themselves.
I was fortunate to have been around when television first came on the scene. I remember having to watch it through the ‘snow’ the screen produced, but I would watch it as long as my next-door neighbor, who had the first television set in the neighborhood, would allow me to stay.
Two of the early shows were Super Circus and Broadway Open House, and the stars the shows produced were two blondes named Mary Hartline and Dagmar. Mary appeared as the circus bandleader and Dagmar did walk-ons and was the butt of jokes on the show. Both ladies did quite well. Mary ended up marrying a Woolworth and became a lady of society, and Dagmar became a beloved comedienne.
http://www.huntingtonquarterly.com/Issue35/dagmar.html more on dagmar
http://www.richsamuels.com/nbcmm/hartline/contents.html more on mary hartline
August 24, 2006
I was thinking about going on a diet, again. I need to lose about twenty pounds, but I am having the hardest time starting a diet. I want to, I need to, but I suffer from a bad case of inertia. I can’t get started.
It’s not only my problem, but all of America it seems. I googled the following phrase: ‘too fat America’, and I came up with 28,800,000 hits, that’s a lotta hits. Of the 28,800,000 hits, I read three articles and scanned a couple more. There are a lot of theories, but nothing startling or new. We eat too much, we eat the wrong stuff, and we don’t exercise enough. A couple theories are of the rebound sort, we, as a country, don’t smoke as much, so we eat more, and we have better drugs to combat cholesterol, so we don’t worry as much about downing all the extra groceries. But we are gaining weight as a country, especially in the south the statistics say. Good old southern fried chicken and/or pecan pie I guess, but whatever we are becoming a bunch of rollie-pollies.
The artist Fernando Botero, a hero of all overweight people, paints most of his subjects large. From the one picture I have seen of Mr. Botero he is slim, go figure.
August 23, 2006
A GIFT OF LOUIE
By Jim Kittelberger
This is a new direction for me in two ways. First I want to tell you about someone I once knew, who I miss very much. Secondly, The subject is not a person, but an animal. Now I like pets a little, but I am one of those who really cannot accept animals as animals. I want them to act like humans and behave properly, eat properly, and please do not do any of that animal sniffing in inappropriate places thing. In short, I really should only let animals like Asta, Eddie, Lassie and Rin Tin Tin in my house through the medium of television. I really love other peoples pets and thoroughly enjoy petting them, throwing sticks so they will fetch them or watching them go through any of their other tricks. But then they always have to revert to form and do a bathroom thing, which, if I am walking the dog, I then have to watch or pretend I am busy looking at my hands like I just discovered them to divert my sight from the natural dog habits. And then, if I am civic minded, and of course I am, I must retrieve their droppings and stow it away in a bag, which I must carry with me until I can dispose of it. Oh, the indignity of it. Now, all you animal lovers, please do not get angry with me, I told you at the outset I am not an animal person. Walking the dog is another subject I question, I never had a dog I walked, they always walked me, straining at the leash and walking in circles until I was tied up neater than a rodeo cowboy ties up a lassoed steer. But once and only once, I was given the gift of Louie, a gift selected for me by the God of animals, so I would know the depth of feeling one can have for a non-human creature. I know he was God given because of the way he was introduced to us. While driving to the local mall one bright shiny day with my wife and son, my son spotted this cat sitting by the side of a country road and determined quickly that it was a lost cat. My son speaks up, It's lost dad, can we take it home?
Giving it not one seconds thought, my wife retorted with parental wisdom, If God wants us to have that cat, he will be there when we return from the mall. Thinking, or not thinking which was certainly a possibility, that it would of course not be there. Now don't get ahead of me.
After spending a bit of time at the mall, we started our return trip home, and as we approached the spot where the cat had previously sat and certainly would not still be there..Well you know the rest, there he sat. Now what was I to do, he was skinny and looked like a lost cat and I did more or less put it into the hands of God. On the trip home, the little God-given cat laid contentedly on my son's lap, as if he had returned home after a long tiring trip. Not being prepared for cat ownership, we had no place for the animal to do his thing, if he indeed had to do it at all. Then the little skinny lost cat endeared himself to us and ensured himself of a home for the rest of his days when he centered himself on a flowerless flowerpot and did his business. My wife and I proclaimed this kitty a gentleman with good manners. Any question of him not belonging was dashed with that one act forevermore. He became everything a non-animal person could want. He was obedient and anxious to please. He would demonstrate throughout his life that he was a gentleman through and through. On holidays, he would docilely agree to our putting a red bow around his neck and would accompany us to the door as guests would arrive, as if he knew each one and was part of the welcoming committee. He was known as Louie and he became beloved by all who knew him. He spent many years with us, until his kidneys failed him and I had to do one of the hardest things I have ever done, have him put down by the vet. It was not a quick decision. We prayed that he would die a peaceful death in his sleep, but it was not to be. Then on the last day, his kidneys failed completely and he urinated on his jerry-rigged bed in the kitchen, an act the gentlekitty Louie, we believe, found intolerable. The plaintive cry he produced seemed to say, Please, I have to leave you now. At the very end, he knew better than we what had to be done, when we were so reluctant to do it. Louie sleeps now beneath a very old maple in our back yard. He died with the unwritten epitaph, Much loved, very much missed, and never to be forgotten. Could any of us hope for more?
We have never replaced him with another. We all agree that God's gift of Louie and the memories we have of him are one of a kind. We were lucky to have had him for thirteen years.
August 21, 2006
Picked up this thread from Reddit this morning: Mahatma Gandhi was never awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in his lifetime. Seems preposterous doesn�t it. His disciple Martin Luther King was awarded the prize in 1964. These two men, just human beings, but what human beings they were. They saw a wrong and were determined to right the wrong through non-violent means. That is not an easy trick in this very violent world we live in, but they did it. But they both paid the sacrifice of their earthly lives to accomplish it. Once in a while a person will walk this earth with such purpose and grandeur that the rest of the world can do nothing except stand back and watch with awe, and maybe learn. These two men wanted nothing but peace and right for all people.
August 18, 2006
I was not then, nor am I now an avid fan of winter. Except, ahh, except for the exhilaration of joy I often felt upon awakening after a crisp coldness had descended upon us overnight. The morning sun breaking through the gray snow sky revealing an unscarred layer of whiteness covering earth’s imperfections was almost my first awareness of what beauty is. The crisp coldness caused the newly fallen snow to sparkle like diamonds, free for the picking. A stirring from deep inside made me spring out of my warm cozy bed onto the cold morning floor immune to the discomfort, and fully aware of what could lie ahead as a result of Mother Nature’s overnight gift to a boy of ten years. Young yes; a scholar, no; a snow day? Yes! Yes! Maybe.
The furnace’s morning stoking and poking and fueling with an ample supply of coal was returning the favor by filling my moms kitchen with its unforgettable and pleasant aroma and heat. The smell of perking coffee, and the sight of the newly buttered toast enhanced those aromatic pleasures. On mornings like these, my mother, a true believer in the medicinal values of food would also prepare oatmeal for me. A properly nourished body, she would always say, is the proper way to begin a day. God, I loved my mom in those days. She was young, I was younger, the world was young; and it just came over the radio, “SCHOOL WAS CANCELLED BECAUSE OF THE BEAUTIFUL SNOW”.
On mornings such as these, when the fates had smiled on us and piled drifts of snow in our driveways and against our backdoors, I could not wait to get out into it. Of course, my moms job would not be done until she made sure I was covered with seventeen layers of protective clothing, or at least it seemed that many. Then I was sprung loose into a world of boys and sleds and imagination. Boys, little boys, young boys, evidently don’t have a built in device running from their bodies to their brains telling them they were getting mighty cold now. They just continued on and on and on, like the energizer bunny until, in the method of the day, their mothers would open the door and yell for them to come home for lunch. How I wonder, no matter how far away we were, we always seemed to hear them. I would arrive at the back door which led into the kitchen, and after working to remove my frozen boots from my frozen feet with my frozen hands, I would stand on the floor register, and let the glorious coal heat cover my body with its thawing, life restoring warmth. How I and my boyhood chums did not lose fingers or toes from frostbite, I’ll never know, because after a short time standing on the register, my feet would begin to hurt and sting. But soon a bowl of soup and maybe a sandwich would appear, the radio would be broadcasting a soap opera, and everything would be right. In my mind today, almost sixty years later, I can still feel the discomfort of the snow, but the comfort I feel from remembering those days and that kitchen and that time diminishes mere physical pain.
I will always have that kitchen, and those glorious snow days, and that caring mom with me as comfort and remembrance to call upon when age begins to lay heavily on me.
August 17, 2006
The war was over, rationing was ended, and women could buy nylons again, and re-proclaim their feminity again by buying a stylish new hat from the Sears catalog. This 1946 collection doesn�t do a thing for me of course, but for the ladies after five years of making do and altering and re-altering it had to be great fun.
August 16, 2006
August 15, 2006
By Jim Kittelberger
"Old age is not for sissies." I'd heard that somewhere and isn't it the truth. I'd spent half the darn day doing lawn work. That was something that I could have finished up in about an hour or two before father time jumped me from behind, and I was exhausted when I finally put the lawn mower and weed eater into the barn. A nice soaking bath and a cup of flavored tea later, I felt half way human again. Television as usual offered very little to entertain me. After cycling through the channels one more time for good measure, I surrendered and hit the off button. "At least the remote was a God send," I thought as I remembered when we had to get up and change channels. But then again that was before we had so many channels to choose from. I finished brushing my teeth, again thankful that they were still my own and workable, and headed up the stairs. I emitted a long sigh as my body welcomed the comfort of a good mattress. That was one of the extravagances that I don't regret. In our younger years together my late wife and I, unable to afford much of anything besides essentials, slept in a bed with a mattress that thought it was a hammock. But our bodies were young and forgiving. "Ah how great it is when we are young," I thought as my mind again took its usual course backward. My wife and I had fifty years together and I missed her greatly. At least when God came to get her, he did it swiftly and painlessly. I have that thought to cling to. When you are married that long and lose a spouse the loss is incalculable. But she is here with me still in spirit. I can feel her presence in each and every room of this old house we lived in together for all of those fifty years. The house needs work, more that I can do myself, but I wouldn't sell it for anything. She is here and it is where I will stay until I join her. I took up the current detective novel I've been reading. It's a recent passion of mine, these detective stories. They are not too deep or too long, just enough to keep me interested until sleep overtakes me. The words were starting to blur even now, and the book fell out of my hands onto my stomach, my signal to put the book and my glasses on the nightstand and turn out the light. As the room became bathed in darkness broken only by the light from the full moon coming through the window, I heard the familiar night train in the distance; a sound I found comforting. My last conscious thoughts were, "Did I lock all the doors and windows? "Well I'm too tired to go back down, I'm sure I must have." I drifted off to sleep. My eyes flew open. My ears had picked up a sound but I was not yet awake. I lay quite still, listening closely to what it was that had awakened me. This had happened many times to me in our years in this house. A strange sound, a sound that didn't belong, but on listening again turning out to be a sound from the street or the telephone ringing in the den. Any calls after eleven in the evening were cause for concern. Nothing good could come from a call that late. Usually though, it turned out to be a wrong number. It would make me angry but at the same time a sigh of relief would escape from me as I relaxed. Just when I was certain that it was an outside noise, I again heard a noise downstairs. I stiffened, and I felt waves of nerve endings rippling down my body. "Maybe I'm wrong," I thought, "maybe I didn't hear what I thought I heard." I lay stiffly, not making a sound, listening. The floor squeaked even as someone was trying to walk quietly. The floors always squeaked in this old house. Then quiet. My mind was numb. "What can I do," I grabbed for the cordless phone that my son insisted I keep with me. It was dead. "Oh for crying out loud," I had forgotten to put it back in it's cradle and let it recharge as I had many times before. I closed my eyes, as I would have when I was a kid. I was petrified. "What would someone want with me?" "I haven't got any money, but unless it was someone from the neighborhood, they wouldn't know that." "Maybe whoever it is will steal something downstairs and go away. Yes, that's what they'll do." Just as I had convinced myself that would happen, I heard a footstep on the stairway. "Should I get up and challenge him by shouting at him to get out of my house?" "Then he'd know I was awake, maybe it would be better if I feigned sleep." "I'm not a young man, whoever is on the stairs certainly is younger than I am, and certainly stronger." "Oh God what should I do? Please help me." "He's on the landing. He's coming toward my room. I have to decide what to do. Someone please help me." My body stiffens with a fear I have never known before as the door opens."
A lone policeman and a member of the rescue squad were sitting in the kitchen. The policeman asked the son to repeat what he had just told him. "Well as I said before, I became worried when I kept getting busy signals on the phone and decided to come over and see how my Dad was doing. He's elderly, but very independent. He would never leave this house. Anyway, the house was dark when I arrived, so I used my key and let myself in. I didn't want to yell out for fear of frightening him, so as quietly as I could I went to his room. I thought I would just peek in and assure myself he was O.K. and go home. He gets a little put out if I question his independence, as I said. When I opened the door, he was lying completely silent and motionless with his eyes wide open. His heart must have just stopped. I knew he was gone. That's when I called 911. The son sighed and gave a small smile, "I loved the old man and I'm going to miss him a lot, but when my time comes to go, I can only hope it will come peacefully in my sleep, as it came to him."
(C) Copyright 2000 Jim Kittelberger. All Rights Reserved.
August 14, 2006
Good old Tom from here in Ohio. He spawned industries that have made kazillions for many, many people. Edison, I�m talking about, Thomas Alva Edison, inventor of a durable light bulb, electricity that would light the world, the phonograph from which I suppose you could say the Ipod evolved and the motion picture machine from which evolved Hollywood and you know the rest. There were so many more inventions from the wizard from Ohio and Menlo Park for which I am so grateful. Thomas hung around with Ford, and Firestone. Wonder what kind of conversations they had?
August 13, 2006
We went to see a local fully staged production of SOUND OF MUSIC. I live in a medium to small town, approx. 50,000 people. The show was great, the acting was adequate, but the singing was fantastic. Of course, our local symphonic orchestra accompanied them, and maybe even I would sound good. No, I go too far with that one. But it raises a question. How much talent there is that never gets much farther than local productions and how frustrating is that for the performer, and/or is that enough? Is it drive that gets the talent to attempt to climb the ladder to recognition, or luck by being seen by someone with connections? I don’t know, but I do know that I want to thank those who entertained me in my little town and exponentially all those who are fulfilled enough by performing locally. Bravo to you all.