November 30, 2006


My first postcard from Mansfield is about Christmas in a small town.

Right after Thanksgiving the town, as they have for as long as I can remember, decorates the downtown with wreaths hanging from the light poles, and strings lights. In the olden days, that’s when I was a kid, it was an annual event, piling the whole family in the car and going downtown after dark and exclaiming over the spectacle. Remember, this was before television, and radio was still king. We weren’t very world-wise, but we were wise to what was good, and this was good. Also in those days, before global warming, it seemed to always be snowing and that added to the sight.

The town has gone through its bad days as have thousands of medium to small towns across the country. At one time Mansfield was a booming industrial town that boasted many plants such as Westinghouse, Tappans, Empire Steel, Dominion electric, Mansfield Tire company, Ohio Brass, and so many more. When the Second World War came, they all converted to war needs. But as it always happens, it finally came to an end when the factories owners decided to look for cheaper labor and they usually headed south. The retail stores at about the same time headed out of the town into malls. Does this sound familiar? The classic ingredients of watching a town die. But I am happy to say after many, many years and many people willing to spend some of their money they have made much headway in clearing out old abandoned buildings or, and this is great, renovating them. Now chic bistros and specialty shops are inhabiting our downtown and it is looking good. It never will be as it was, but it doesn’t look like an abandoned disaster area. It’s a pleasant place to spend some time and hopefully some money.

But for we who were here in the heyday, the forties and fifties, we will always have our memories, as Rick related to Ilsa in Casablanca about Paris, and they are good.

November 29, 2006

I ran across this picture in Flickr. It's a clue to where I've been the last few days. I've been Christmas shopping and one of those places on my list was the book store a couple times. While there I enjoyed their latte, mocha, coffee drinks. Sitting in a bookstore and sipping away on one of these treats is one of my favorite relaxations.
1942: US rations coffee

US grocery stores were able to sell coffee today after a week-long sales freeze; although, the drink was now rationed by the US government in order to ensure a fair distribution of the limited supply during World War II.

"Stamp No. 27 in the 'Sugar Book' (lower left-hand corner) is good for one pound of coffee through Sunday, January 3, 1943, if the age shown at time of registration was 15 years or over. Any person not having a 'Sugar Book' may still obtain one by registering (prior to December 15, 1942) with his local War Price and Ration Board, and subject to age limit, the stamps will be good for coffee, too," an ad in The Modesto Bee and News-Herald explained on November 30, 1942.

While each person 15 years or older was entitled to one pound of coffee every five weeks (which equals about one cup a day), Americans were encouraged not to use all of their family's coupons at once. "Just buy what you need – don't be a drip and dry up your neighbor's dripolator," the The Delta Democrat-Times read on November 29, 1942.

November 24, 2006

This painting by Manet has always puzzled me. It seems so out of synch with its century. It looks like it should be found in a girly mag of our day. No one I've read has ever really understood what was, or was not, going on. The following are the facts ma'am as Joe Friday used to say written by Thomas Hoving who knows as much about it as anybody.

In the Salon des Refuses exhibition, one painting in many ways marked
the beginning of the Impressionist style and was the banner of the new independent spirit: Manet's Dejeuner sur l'Herbe (1863), which depicts two fully clothed, elegant males lolling in a sun-dappled wood with one naked lady and one scantily clad lady. You probably aren't astonished that the crit­ics of the time found the subject bizarre and unseemly, but you will be puzzled to know that what struck the critics as even more hideous - some­thing even approaching moral degradation - were the fragmented colors Manet used to simulate flickering sunlight and his technique of laying paint in broad swaths.

November 22, 2006

Augustus and Winston

Gus’s caretaker had propped pillows up against the headboard, allowing him to sit up,
and it felt wonderful. Pictures were strewn all about him, as his parents, his children and his wife looked back at him courtesy of Mr. Eastman’s magic lantern.

All you had to do was look at the hues of the prints to determine the age of the subjects.
Dad and Mom were standing erect with not a hint of a smile. Getting your picture taken
in those days seemed to be a serious business. His children grew older and younger as
the photographs lay in no chronological order, and the memories came back in no order
accordingly. He had been blessed with good children, but it seemed by looking at the
pictures that he might have favored one over the other if you counted each image. But
in the march of changing technology, one was recorded by the still camera, another by
silent movies, and another by photographic slides, so on some future day, probably soon,
when they would sort through their father’s picture box, they might attach the amount of pictures, many or few, to favoritism, although that certainly was never the case. But that will be up to the individuals mindset, as it always is, and factored in with hundreds of other pieces of
the life they knew, until the final piece is assembled, and ‘the father’ they are comfortable
with and will remember for the rest of their lives appears.

A sudden sadness came over Gus as he pulled an often-handled photo out from under the pile.
A picture of a young, lean man with chiseled cheekbones and ash colored hair, named Hank
Potter from Norman, Oklahoma looked back at him. He, like hundreds of other men from
Oklahoma in those days, was nicknamed Okie. He stood posing in front of a tent, offering
him a taste of something from a tin can with the lid still attached and pulled back. He was
rubbing his stomach, in pantomime confirming the deliciousness of the rations; a cigarette
rested on his ear, a treat to be savored later after he had finished off the wonderful meal he
was pleased to share with him.

It was a happy day for all of us. We had survived the war and were preparing for shipment
home, except for Okie. He had decided that he really didn’t have much to go home to, and
he had found a home in the Army, as they liked to say. He was going to re-enlist. It was
the last picture taken of Okie before we shipped out.

It was the only picture he still had of Okie. They had written a couple letters back and forth,
but that soon petered out, as Okie got busy when Korea heated up and he went back to the
business of soldiering big time. The last letter he received was from a soldier he didn’t know
who explained that one of Hank’s wishes was that he be notified if anything happened to him.
He was killed when the North Koreans, aided by the Chinese, counter-attacked and pushed
the Americans into a full-scale retreat. The soldier said that Hank was one of the first killed,
so he didn’t live to be part of the retreat. He thought that might be a comfort to Gus. It hit him
hard and the pain never really went away, it just went down a level to a tolerable degree and
stayed there with the memories of his wife.

War is such a waste, he thought once again, and now he would have to worry about his grandson, who only this past week had gotten orders to prepare for deployment. He wassitting surrounded by his pictures, eyes closed, with his head lying back on his pillows when a now familiar voice interrupted his thoughts.

“Are we having a bad day Gus? Or are you trying to get a little shut-eye?” came the reedy voice
of Winston Cartier, his now daily visitor. Winston, a mouse of heroic intelligence, and little patience with self-pity, stood at his accustomed spot on the bedside table, standing atop whatever Gus was currently reading. His outfit of the day indicated that he must have been reading Gus’s thoughts. He was dressed all in khaki; shirt, trousers and necktie.

Gus, pleased to see his visitor, answered. “Neither; in the way you mean my friend, I’ve been
reminiscing about my war and worrying about my grandson’s war, and thinking that war has got
to be the most inane way to settle things ever devised by man. And it was man who devised it,
not God, because he wouldn’t have anything to do with it, of that I’m positive. You know, I find
it obscene that when we’re at war, both sides of the conflict invariably try to co-op God to their
side. Damn, that galls me. If we must fight these wars every ten years or so somewhere on the
planet, the blame should be on the combatants and not God, nor should we, or they, solicit his
blessings and put him at the head of the marching column and pretend that ‘our war’, ‘our side’,
is the side sanctioned and condoned by him. Nothing is farther from the truth and you know it.
If we must fight, and it seems we must, and right has to be on our side, then the people should be the ones that sanction our role in it. Leave God out of it, he will be busy enough gathering up the souls of those killed in the stinking conflicts that follow.”

“You’re really wound up in this aren’t you my friend”, said Winston, sitting down now since his
friend Gus seemed quite eager and ready to continue. “Are you saying what I think you’re saying, that God has no responsibility for what is going to happen?”

“No, I’m not saying that at all. What I am saying is this. War’s are made by man, and will be fought by man. But each side invariably wants to put God in a flak jacket and a helmet, marching at the head of the column with a weapon slung over his shoulder, because our cause is divinely right. No, No, No. I think God looks at us killing each other and is properly disgusted with all of us.”

“Then,” Winston broke in, “you don’t believe in the Just War Theory?”

“I’m not sure I know what that is.”

“Well as you know, war’s have been going on forever. Even the bible hints at ongoing discussions about ethical behavior during wars. Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote at length about justifications of war, and kinds of activity that are permissible. Moral considerations involving woman and children and treatment of prisoners are deemed honorable and should be adhered to, or dishonor will befall those who don’t adhere to the code. Indeed the Just War Theory believes that wars can be just, if they are fought ethically, and morally.”

Gus sat back and closed his eyes. “I’ve been in war, and I’ve thought a lot about war, but I don’t think I have ever thought about war being a moral undertaking. At least to the one’s who have to do the killing. I think it boils down to a kill or be killed proposition. Even in the Second World War, which was most likely America’s ‘Just War’, or as Studs Terkel titled his book, The Good War, when you boil it down to it’s essentials, it’s a killing game and I bet the parents of a fallen combatant on either side believe their son has fought and died for the right reasons, and for the right side. They have to, or they would never be able to go on with life. I think the term, a Just War, and The Good War is nothing but an oxymoron. Wars are dirty and immoral consequences of intelligent people not being able to find a better solution. In these days of instant world-wide communications between world leaders it is inconceivable to me that reasonable men
cannot find men of like mind and bypass the barbaric acts of war.”

Gus lay back on his pillow, out of breath, and out of words to express his sadness and frustrations over yet another armed conflict in the offing, and this one would include his grandchild.

Winston was, at this point, more than a little concerned that his friend Gus may have squandered too much of his diminishing supply of energy on a subject that is at best perplexing and most probably unsolvable. Although he understood that once a person is personally involved in war, it remains a hot subject never to be forgotten or softened by the passage of time. As far as the abolishment of all war, it seemed an impossible idea at best. War is a lucrative undertaking and will boost the economies on any country taking part, as long as you win of course, and America being the only superpower on the map these days, the economic gains are motivation to move the country in that direction if at all possible.

But to bring this, or any other theory up to Augustus at this time would upset him and maybe push him over the edge into the only place that will assure him of peace eternal. Winston was not ready to lose his new friend just yet, so this and other thoughts on why war is not repugnant to any civilized person would have to wait until he recovered some strength, if he could.

November 21, 2006

Rockin’ Chair
Written by: Hoagy Carmichael

Ol’ rockin’ chair’s got me

Cane by my side

Fetch me that ginseng

‘Fore I tan your hide

Can’t get from this cabin

Ain’t goin’ nowhere

Just sittin’ me here grabbin’At the flies

‘round thisOl’ rockin’ chair

My dear old aunt Harriet

In heaven she be

Send me sweet chariot

For the end of these troubles I see

Ol’ rockin’ chair gets it

Judgement day is here

I’m chained to my oldRockin’ chair

(picture was taken in 1931 in Texas.)

November 20, 2006

This little clip from Charlie Chaplins MODERN TIMES, is funny, but if you've ever worked on an assembly line, it might not be. Its de-humanizing in a way having a man or woman stand in one place for a whole shift of eight hours doing nothing more than adding a part or screwing in the screws, doing one very small part repetitiously. I did once for three months and I don't recommend it. If you are a thinking person, and how could you not be, standing in one place for eight hours doing one task over, and over, and over, you have to wonder, Isn't there something more fulfilling I can dedicate my life to?

Chester Gould's DICK TRACY
A selection from the 1936 seeries: THE HOTEL MURDERS

When Addie Gothorn, a notorious gambler, is found dead in a hotel, Dick Tracy cancels his planned vacation to investigate the crime. All clues point to Athnel Jones, who is living in Skycrest Aparatments. The only problem? No bullet. Someone is on a shooting spree with a gun that leaves no bullets in the bodies of its victims. The only way to solve this crime is for Tracy to call in his top investigator-Junior.

Once captured, Athnel Jones makes a full confession. Tracy discovers a box containing two pistols that shoot paraffine-coated bullets of ice. The ice would melt away and leave no ballistic evidence. The murder weapon is discovered and another crime is solved.

November 18, 2006

Diet Snapple fact #140 says: Holland is the only country with a national dog.

I know you want to know the answer, so here it is:

Holland's national dog is the Keeshond, also known as Wolfsspitz (inGermany), Chien Loup (in France), or Lupini (in Italy). Originally,the Keeshond was a watchdog on Dutch canal barges, riverboats, and farms, and it is still often used for this purpose today.

Remember the secret decoder ring and other premiums we could send in for from Dick Tracy on the radio? Here is a premium from Dick Tracy, click and listen. It may take a minute for the audio to start but hang in there.

November 16, 2006


By Jim Kittelberger

The bicycle leans against the back of the garage
Forgotten, as the boy turning young man tinkers
On his old jalopy
Forgotten in the rush of time
Becoming part of the past just as the freckles
Fade from the boys’ face, so too am I
Relegated to moments past, joys of another day.

So shall It remain here out of sight, in darkness
And light, in rain and snow
Until one day to be rediscovered
Standing just where It was placed and forgotten
Except by time and rust
To be manhandled and thrown in the trashmans
Truck and taken to a place out of sight of todays
Hustle and bustle and thrown amongst yesterdays

November 15, 2006

'Buffalo Bob Smith' talks about how it was all done on the Howdy Doody show. An early television show for kids utilizing puppets and Bob in humorous activities. At least we thought so back in those days. If you are old enough to have been around in those early days of tv or not, you might enjoy some inside television.

November 14, 2006

I absolutely love the Internet, and I’m nearing seventy. There is truly something for everyone. I relish books that are set in the forties, listening to old time radio, even reading the old comics from the newspapers. My goodness, you can immerse yourself in subjects and objects that were new when you were. You can read the comics daily just as you did back then. Here is one I look at everyday. It’s Mutt and Jeff, but this particular strip reminds me an awfully lot of Lum and Abner and their Jot-It-Down store. It will probably not appeal to the now generation who will probably dismiss them as ‘hillbillies’ or backward, or really corny, (does anybody use that word anymore?) but back in the time I immerse myself in occasionally, we were not very sophisticated until much later in life. Actually I never did make it to sophisticated, oh well.
Diet Snapple Real Fact #72 says: The average person uses 150 gallons of water a day for personal use.

The title of this picture is STEAM PUMP taken by Lewis Hine in 1920. The human subject is a powerhouse mechanic and I think the picture works so well because it depicts power deriving from the machine and the man.

On a personal level I like the picture because it reminds me of my late father-in-law, whom I admired and who was also a powerhouse mechanic who toiled in the powerhouses of General Motors.

November 11, 2006

You are looking into an A&P window in the year 1936. Before you get too nostalgic about those prices, you should know the average income was $26.00 per week.

November 10, 2006

Found. While rooting around in the attic, I came across a small stack of old 45 rpm records. Among them was this recording of Bill Haley's Rock Around The Clock. Needless to say, it peeled away fifty years off this old body. Another in the stack was the song, Gonna Get Along Without Ya Now, by Patience and Prudence, a song that really takes me back. When I was courting my wife in the early fifties of the last century, my girl friend (wife-to-be) and her sister would sing this song while doing dishes after supper. They really did a great job, maybe I'm a little prejudiced, but they really did. Ahh wonderful memories, and where did the time go?

November 9, 2006

The second of three completed installments of Augustus and Winston conversations. This one is called THE MIND. A whimsical meeting of a dying man and a beast (well a mouse) who cuts him no slack.


By Jim Kittelberger

His eyes, wide open, stared at the ceiling at that gray on gray time of the night. That time when your mind sees everything crystal clear without the coloration of sun and shadows; When everything is so clear and dimensional, without hopes or wishes to cling to; when the truth is so omnipresent it is accompanied by an almost physical pain, and there is absolutely no place to hide, no appeals to make, no excuses, no chance of a mistake. It’s the time when truth, your truth, crashes into you head on.

It was that moment for Gus. He knew his moment of truth was arriving, when the future, his future, was written in the shadows of the ceiling. He knew for a certainty that he would never again leave this bed. He knew that he would never again feel that built up physical energy, pent up after a good nights sleep and hardly able to contain itself one minute longer, straining to burst free and run. Just run, full out, with the wind in his face, running just for the hell of it because it felt so good, no reason for it except the feeling of legs raising and lowering like pistons, well-oiled and functioning as God planned for them to work. Sweat breaking out on his forehead, falling as gravity says it must, into his eyes and stinging; then falling, with no thought of pain, injury, or reason, onto the clean smelling grass and rolling until he lay on his back, arms and legs spread wide, looking up into the sun, smiling to himself, just because it seems like such a natural thing to do.

Gus lies there in his bed, smiling the smile he remembered from so long ago, when a familiar voice breaks into his reverie.

“That smile you have on your face tells me you must be revisiting the good times you had in your youth, in that bordello across the border”, came the irreverent voice of his companion these days, Winston Cartier.

“You know”, retorted Gus, “It just occurred to me that your initials are WC, I think it might stand for Water Closet, that place where your mouse mind resides.”

“That’s pretty good for an old coot like you,” responded Winston, “it shows you still have a little life left in you,” he said, showing Gus little or no sympathy for his present physical condition, or his status as a human.

“It’s good to see you again, you little badgering know-it-all, even with that toilet mouth of yours. Even though you’re dead wrong about where my mind was residing at the moment of your arrival.”

“Well, my frail friend, your mind is, well, your mind. It’s yours to use for good or ill. A quite powerful instrument for a piece of matter that only weighs three pounds, that is for you humans. For us in the mouse kingdom, it is of course less in direct relation to our size. Of course, in my case, if you believe in heredity, my offspring, if I choose to have any, should have a larger allocation of brain space. It is well known…..”

“Stop please,” interjected Gus. “I can’t take anymore. I am well aware of your mental powers, but please, I’m not a well man and I can take only so much baloney, from man or beast, er mouse.”

“As a matter of fact,” Gus continued, “The source of the smile you happened to glimpse, was from one of the powers of our brain, our memory. I happened to be recalling, quite vividly, I might add, a moment in life where nothing else mattered except the moment. When life is stretched out in front of us forever, and time is irrelevant. Death was a nebulous term with no meaning. Our grandparents were still with us and the only time that word death had any meaning was perhaps at the death of a pet goldfish or dog, sad, but forgotten with the acquiring of a substitute. Perhaps, as I think of it now, it teaches a bad lesson, or no lesson at all, that death is not a permanent thing, and when it happens, we just acquire a different colored fish, or a dog with more hair. We learn nothing from the experience, and it teaches us that life, human or animal, is cheap and easily replaced.

“Maybe you didn’t learn anything Gus,” Winston replied, “but that’s just your experience. The mind doesn’t control us and tell us what to think or how to process information it receives. With it’s ten billion nerve cells it does a very good job of processing, but you have to interpret what information you get, but this is all getting too involved, and young humans are not yet old enough to make proper decisions with the information they receive, but I can assure you the experience is catalogued away and will be remembered forever and used as a database for making proper decisions at a later time in their lives. You higher class of vertebrates sometimes are a little dense, but eventually, if given enough time, will get it.”

“You don’t have to tell me the power of the mind, you wisenheimer rodent, I remember a time in my life when I was angry most of the time, angry because of my dissatisfaction with a situation that I could do nothing about, but I wore my bad attitude like a ill-fitting suit. That is until one day, while talking to my wife about my troubles, it came upon me like an epiphany that no one cared about my problems, except me and of course my poor wife who had to listen to the constant whining. It was like I discovered America and it was so simple. It was all in my mind. So many learned people had written books on the subject of positive thinking, but I was blind to them, until I changed my thinking and overnight, really, overnight my life changed.” Gus shook his head, “It was all so simple and I was too dumb to know it.”

“Life is a learning experience until we die,” said Winston, “I’m sure you’re still learning as you lie in what will surely be your death bed. Some sage says what you have accumulated through all your years is wisdom. Not just facts, but the experience to know what works and when to use it.” Winston actually smiled wistfully at the old man, then asked, “Tell me Gus, if you had the opportunity to live your life over, would you do anything differently? Now I’m not the genie with three wishes, not even one, so your answer is just rhetorical, I sadly cannot offer you new life.” Winston actually seemed moved just a little by asking the old man to rethink his entire life and encapsulate a gem for posterity, the answer for a happy life.

Gus laid his head back down on his pillow and thought for a moment. “Gladly, I can say I would not change much, except one thing. One thing sounds like I would wish for one more Hershey bar and that would close out a happy life, but the one thing I wish I would have done that I did not do, was to exercise the brain God gave me, by going on further in my schooling. I don’t have any way of knowing what would come from taking that path, but I feel it may have been like dropping a stone in the water and concentric circles appear over and over, expanding out to the shore. The waste, if that’s what it was, was my own doing, so I only have myself to blame for not knowing what might have been.”

Gus finished and looked over at his inquisitor, agitator, debating partner, late night companion and friend, “Not too bad, don’t you think, that I hold no grudges, owe no man, and have had the love of a wonderful woman and only have one regret for a lifetime, and that is wasting only what was mine to begin with.”

Winston, tipped his hat, an affectation he acquired after watching Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, and replied, “Don’t get yourself all pumped up you old coot, with that pretentious eulogy you just gave yourself. You were probably too darn lazy to use anymore of your brain than you did, so be grateful with what you accomplished using only half of the brain God gave you and go to sleep dreaming about whatever you were dreaming about before. I still think it was that bordello just over the border and Madam Rosa’s best girls you were smiling about.”

Gus laughed out loud and then slept.

November 8, 2006

The war was nearly over when this picture was taken in 1945. Do you think that is the reason that all these people decided to go to the beach, to relax and celebrate? I don't think there is room for anyone to sit down. I look at this picture and wonder why when each person arrived, and saw all the people who had gotten there before them, they didn't turn around and go somewhere else. Human behavior is sometimes kind of weird, or maybe just New Yorkers, this picture was taken at Coney Island.

November 7, 2006

I have debuted a new site that I am still testing. It's called ON-HANDS STORYTIME.

If anyone has a moment or two would you please go to the site and click on a couple of the sound bytes, and please let me know if it worked, or not. It works in testing, but you all know how that goes. What's that principal that says, if anything can go wrong, it will. I intend to add pictures to the site also, if it works.

Thank you all.

Hope you all voted today, and it turns out the way you want.

November 6, 2006

I think America is singing because we are free, and tomorrow we can vote to keep what we like and discard that which we don't. We're not perfect God knows, but we keep trying to be better. On Election day we can give it a little boost in whatever we think is the correct path to follow. Please exercise your right as Walt Whitman, the lady in the big hat, and I encourage you to do.

I Hear America Singing
from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (1900)

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear;
Those of mechanics—each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and strong;
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work;
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat—the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck;
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench—
the hatter singing as he stands;
The wood-cutter’s song—the ploughboy’s, on his way in the morning, or at the noon intermission, or at sundown;
The delicious singing of the mother—or of the young wife at work—or of the girl sewing or washing—Each singing what belongs to her, and to none else;The day what belongs to the day—At night, the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs.

November 4, 2006

Before you jump in your car and head for this place, you will have to perfect time travel also. This was taken in 1936. That's even before I was born (one year before).

November 3, 2006

Diet peach Snapple Real Fact #112 says:

At birth, a Dalmation is always pure white.
I like to read as you probably do too, and I like to look at lists. I at first googled BEST BOOK EVER WRITTEN, but then I ran across this list using the same criteria. I figured who would know better about books than librarians, right? Right!

I quickly ran down the list and eliminating all the books I have either read, heard on tape, seen the movie, or just knew about generally, I still came up with seven (7) I had never heard of. Maybe I will check with my library and see if they have them.

Based on a survey conducted by Brodart Co., September, 1998 - March, 1999

1. Pride and Prejudice
2. To Kill a Mockingbird
3. Jane Eyre
4. Gone with the Wind
5. Lord of the Rings
6. The Catcher in the Rye
7. Little Women
8. A Prayer of Owen Meany
9. The Stand
10. The Great Gatsby
11. Mists of Avalon
12. David Copperfield
13. Kristen Lavransdotter x
14. Beloved
15. Age of Innocence
16. The Shell Seekers
17. Tess of the D'Urbervilles
18. The World According to Garp
19. Catch 22
20. The Clan of the Cave Bear
21. The Horse Whisperer
22. Pillars of the Earth
23. Prince of Tides
24. Possession
25. Rebecca
26. Follow the River
27. My Antonia
28. The Old Man and the Sea
29. The Scarlet Letter
30. Sophies Choice
31. Snow Falling on Cedars
32. One Hundred Years of Solitude
33. Name of the Rose
34. The Giver x
35. Cold Mountain
36. Cold Sassy Tree
37. Atlas Shrugged
38. Bridge to Terebithia x
39. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
40. The Hobbit
41. Les Miserables
42. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
43. Wuthering Heights
44. A Tale of Two Cities
45. Huckelberry Finn
46. Alice in Wonderland
47. The Wind in the Willows
48. The Bean Trees
49. Ben Hur
50. And Then There Were None
51. The Secret Garden
52. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry x
53. Busman's Honeymoon x
54. Schindler's List
55. Emma
56. The Color Purple
57. The Count of Monte Cristo
58. Charlotte's Web
59. Anne of Green Gables
60. The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
61. Lady Chatterly's Lover
62. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
63. East of Eden
64. The Once and Future King
65. Enders Game x
66. The Fountainhead
67. A Patchwork Planet
68. Gaudy Night
69. Shogun
70. Grapes of Wrath
71. Handmaid's Tale
72. Lonesome Dove
73. Outlander
74. Pigs in Heaven
75. Slaughterhouse Five
76. Jude the Obscure
77. Time and Again
78. Misery
79. A Christmas Carol
80. The Accidental Tourist
81. Giants of the Earth
82. Persuasion
83. Fried Green Tomatoes
84. Tisha x
85. The Thornbirds
86. Christy
87. Lost Horizon
88. The Little Prince
St. Exupery
89. Fahrenheight 451
90. For Whom the Bell Tolls
91. Frankenstein
92. Bleak House
93. Boy's Life
94. Chesapeake
95. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
96. How Green Was My Valley
97. Howard's End
98. I, Robot
99. Of Mice and Men
100. A Passage to India

The seven I do not know are: numbers 13, 34, 38, 52, 53, 65, 84

November 2, 2006

In 1959 on this day, Charles Van Doren admitted to a House subcommittee that he had the questions and answers in advance of his appearances on the TV game show ''Twenty-One.''

Were we naive or what. Well it's taken us forty-seven years, but we have gotten it down to a science. At least the politicians have. They have learned to tell the polished, and honed lie to all of us depending upon our age, sex, ethnicity, party persuation, how big a contribution we can give to his personal war chest or to his particular party. It's amazing how they can do it. It's like watching a ventriloquist to see if his lips move. With the pol it's the trick of telling each of us our own especially prepared message that we want to hear, while telling someone else something different. Watching his or her mouth talk out of both sides at the same time is worthy of an American Idol appearance.

Well take heart all, it's just about over for a couple more years, although with the presidential election next up, it will probably not stop.

Back in May I wrote a piece about Jackson Pollock, and his style of painting, and not being a great fan. But yesterday? Mr. Pollock hit the jackpot for one of his drip paintings. One of his paintings, the one shown here, got 140 million dollars in a personal transaction. Oh boy, like I said before, "where's my paintbox"? Now I'm going to make a run over to my local Sherwin Williams paint store and pick up a few gallons of various colors, a big tarp, and a canvas to drip it all onto. Whoa boy, I can see the bucks already.

For more on this story, here is the address:

November 1, 2006

Here comes one of those facts you could probably live without knowing.

From the cap of a diet peach Snapple there is this Real Fact #53.
The average woman consumes 6 pounds of lipstick in her lifetime.
I like to occasionally write stories for children, so a while back I wrote this one for the two hardest ages to navigate, growing up and growing old. Most train stories for kids are always compared to The Little Train that Could, well that's o.k. too, enjoy the story whatever you think.

a fable for any age


By Jim Kittelberger

The Blue Engine Line pulled into the station at Littletown, Ohio. It belched one last puff of smoke, and one last shot of steam, which created a very large cloud obscuring the little station house. If trains were people, it would seem that blue engine was ready for the train retirement home, or as was the fact, for the scrap heap. Blue train had been working very hard for many, many years, carrying passengers from their homes into the big city. It was good at its job. It would proudly announce its arrival at each station with a loud toot of its whistle, and carry the people safely to their destinations. But times became hard for all the people in Ohio including the farmers and they had to work much harder to have enough money to feed their families. The owners of the Blue Engine Line also had less money, so they cut back on upkeep on their trains. Well, Blue train just like people needed someone to keep it clean and neat and pretty and oiled and in topnotch mechanical shape. But the owners didn’t have the money so Blue train started getting a little dirtier and shabbier and not in very good mechanical shape, until finally it was so tired and uncared for, it acted old. So as time passed and the company had more money, it was decided that instead of fixing up Blue train, it should be retired and shoved aside. They would purchase a new shiny train, a red one, the Red Engine Line.

Blue train was oh so blue and sad as it sat on the siding of the station, but at least the owners had not send it to the trash heap, but instead just ignored it. So it sat there day after day, month after month, year after year. Children would come with their parents and climb up into the engine and pretend they were engineers speeding down the tracks. Blue train liked that, but he was sure he had some more miles left in him, but the owners had forgotten all about him. That is until one day when the most important man in Ohio, the Governor of the state and many mayors were aboard the Red Engine Line on the way back to Capital city to sign a very important bill that would help all the people of Ohio. The night was moonless, and dark. Snow was swirling around the big train as it barreled through the night, speeding them to the Capital. When all of a sudden with no warning, it started slowing in spite of anything the engineer could do, until finally it stopped in the middle of nowhere. The big engine wheezed and sputtered and started to make the oddest noise the engineer had ever heard. It stated making noises like a coffee maker, it sounded like water boiling and percolating and getting louder. It was the great boiler building up a huge head of steam and not being able to use it for moving the train. Something had broken and the steam kept building until something was going to blow soon. The engineer, not knowing what to do, ordered all the workers off the engine and he followed them soon after, and they ran off to a safe distance, and stood in the blowing snow waiting for whatever was about to happen. Well it finally did happen. The boiler, not able to contain its hot steam one moment longer, blew out a huge hole in the bottom of the boiler and the steam and fire exploded under the big locomotive. Farmers, who saw it, later reported that the sparks that came out of the boiler were better than any Fourth of July fireworks show they had ever seen. And the steam created a cloud bigger than four of Zeke Smiths biggest barns.

The owners, who were riding with the Governor, were mortified. Here sat the most important man in Ohio with a very important job to do sitting here in the middle of pastures and cornfields, still many miles from the Capital, not moving. They huddled together and got out their maps of all their tracks and stations, arguing and discussing and arguing again. They finally decided they needed the closest train available to get here and rescue the governor and the mayors. They looked again and again, and decided that the closest station to them was a little town called Littletown. So the call went out. Get up steam on any available train and send it as soon as possible to rescue the very important people. The Littletown stationmaster replied yes sir, yes sir twice because he was so nervous. He looked at his manifest and was aghast, he had said yes before he realized that all his trains were out of the station at other places. That is, all except, the Blue train. But it had not been used for years and was old and tired. But he had no choice now, because if he called back and told them, they would surely fire him for not realizing he had no trains available.

Blue train was in the middle of another nights long sleep, when he noticed a small army of men coming in his direction. Before he knew what was happening, they had lit his boiler and the steam was making the old engine come alive again. As quickly as possible Blue train was connected to the main line. The engineer pushed the old throttle and the Blue engine started to move. At first it was like an old fellow with stiff muscles getting on his feet after sitting for a long while, he groaned and moaned; but soon, as the steam ran through its lines and twists and turns it started to feel good, until he was flying down the tracks feeling as if he were a teenager again. Soon, it seems in record time, with all its lights blazing and its horn tooting and whistle whistling, it came around the final turn and there was the Governors train. The Governor could not stop thanking the owners for their great wisdom in sending for this fine train, and the owners could not stop thanking the stationmaster for his wise choice in sending this fine old train.

So, I wish I could say that old Blue train was back to work on a daily basis, but time could not be reversed and old Blue was just that, old. But old Blue was given a special siding all to itself, and banners proclaimed that this train was the train that rescued the Governor of Ohio in a snowstorm and carried him to Capital city where he signed important bills that helped all the people of Ohio. He was a hero.

There is a moral to this story. We all get old and our bodies may become smaller and less robust, but inside all of us dwells a spirit that burns eternally bright, just like Old Blue Train in Littletown Ohio.