Thursday, January 29, 2009

Those Old Pictures

Boxes and boxes of photos .

Like old soldiers, they never die, they just fade away.

But there's a difference - when the soldiers fade away, there's an obituary for them with name, age, date of birth, and other historical stuff.

Unlike the soldiers, those boxes and boxes of fading photos do not in most cases have any identification. My archives contain hundreds of photos, many unidentified, much to my regret, because now I haven't the foggiest notion of what or who I see in these pictures.

Right about now when Yarntangler hears me saying to Lady B "put Carter's name and the date on the back of that picture so next year we'll know who we are looking at," I cringe when a pair of scornful eyes cast in my direction remind me that 18 years of ago, BB and Yarntangler sat in the barn and pored over rafts of unidentified pictures.

"Oh, look, here's a picture that looks something like Mom so it must be her mother," says BB, and then Yarntangler exclaims "this must be the one Dad calls Uncle Eddie, so let's put this one in the Reilly family box." The lady who looked like "Mom''s mother" went into the Ducharme box.

Now these two youngsters, daughters of mine, were trying to identify pictures from maybe 75-80 years ago before they were even in swaddling clothes, little ones now expected to magically know these pictured people.

Just as a reputation- saving piece of information;

I DID identify the gentleman shown here in the army uniform. That's Grampa Reilly, posing in the 1917 fashion supplied to all the guys who joined the elite force known as Uncle Sam's Army for World War I - "the war to end all wars". The suit belonged to Buck, his son.

There are still hordes of identity-less photos in those numerous boxes but thanks to the two girls they are now in envelopes of "might be" families.

Besides family pictures, there's a lot of scenes, photos of old cars, vacation trip sites, snowstorms and even automobile accidents and . . .

Oh, here's Frank Lincoln; he lived over on Lawrence Street and his wife was Anne. I took his picture . I don't remember why I knew them but it might have been when I sometimes took them grape jelly after my mother and I made it one Summer. Mrs. Lincoln was Mother's friend.

All those old pictures - or at least most - still have no identifications and I feel badly about that because there's a lot of lost history and I am the oldest one who would be able to make better guesses at what they are or who is depicted.

That all brings me to a bit of advice to everybody but especially to myself: Don't let many more days go by without getting out the old photo albums, picking out the photos and checking on the back for identifications. None there? Put some on if you can or find someone else who can help.

Another piece of advice concerns new photos. If you still get prints made, identify them on the back the day you get them. If you only get them on the computer, figure out how to label them.

As I write this I can hear Yarntangler muttering under her breath "yeah, he can tell everybody what to do but let's see the progress of his stuff next time I'm back."

Before I go, I just remembered something else - that baby up top is the mother of all my brood. She's seven months old in that picture.

- 30 -

Old Newsie

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

School Teacher's Pride . . .

. . . And Then There's Perks

It pays to be a schoolteacher. Yes, one can live well - sometimes - on a teacher's salary, but that's beside the point. The real pay comes in the pride one can take in knowing she or he has provided any number of children a future. And that's so important but not my point in this blog.

Back to salary. A good teacher will eventually command that financial status on which she or he can live quite comfortably - some even get to the point of being rich - repeat - some.

But along the way there are perks. One is that with the title of teacher or retired teacher, one can get a discount on a motel room and meals and other things. (These days it would be nice if a teacher could get a discount at the gas pumps but alas . . .)

This week another perk popped up - quite unexpectedly. This blogger and Lady B, armed with season tickets to a concert by the Southwest Symphony, took along Geezerguy and Yarntangler to hear the concert, along with a checkbook to buy $30 worth of tickets to get the duo inside the doors.

At the entrance, a genial ticket seller asked, as I put pen to checkbook"are either of your guests scholteachers?" I quickly answered my"my daughter was a teacher in the California gold rush area and in the 1880's Town in South Dakota."

The ticketseller raised eyebrows and on learning that was in tourist attractions, she sort of declined until Yarntangler anounced she actuallly was a retired teacher from Massachusetts. She was handed a complimentary ticket and I was told "now you only have to pay for her husband."

"Whoa,"I said mentally to myself and then anounced "my wife is a retired Hobbs school teacher." Lady B promptly was handed a complimenary ticket. Quick-thinking me than declared "Well, I'lluse my season ticket and turn Lady B's season ticket over to Gezzerguy." That did it and no money had to be exchanged. A teacher's perk!

Now, as to how that came about. The Southwest Symphony just happened to be observing a school week, with members visiting every school in our 110-mile-long county to introduce children to classical and concert type music. Included in the two-day event was a salute to current and former teachers.

We old timers and the following generation of old timers are learning every day. Now what shall we tackle next to outwit the economy?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Journey Ahead . . .

. . . And One Backward

My host of friends, a bunch of three, and a few who haven't surfaced yet, have, along with me, had their say about our new president, wishing him Godspeed in his journey ahead.

That brings me to a journey backward in memory to the first president I can recall. There were three before him that I never heard of until, probably, the first time I began to study history in grammar school.

Those first two were Warren G. Harding, who was president when I was born on Flag Day in 1923 and whose tenure was only 50 days in my lifetime. He died August 2. (You can do the math if you think I'm wrong). The others were Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover.

I can say I recall Hoover somewhat but only, really, from hearing in my early days that the United States blamed the "great depression" on him. Now I want to say at this point that you need to know I can and sometimes DO mess up my facts because with only a few monhs to go to 86, my aging memory plays tricks on me.

Recall with me that a couple days ago I made reference to Mr. Eddie at the hometown newspaper dubbing me a cub reporter. Well, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, campaigning for the White House, visited the hometown, I then was working at the newspaper.

He spoke long enough in the city center for a photographer to take his picture and get it into the afternoon's early edition along with a reporter's story. I was chosen to deliver a copy of the paper to Mr. Roosevelt.

I was able to shake his hand and hear him say "tell your dad and mom to vote for me." I don't think they did. World War II came along soon after Mr. Roosevelt gained his office for another term.

A few years later, I found myself in the United States Army and on D-Day in Southampton, England. On that historic, rainy and foggy morning just after dawn, I met the General. I was in a line of rear line supply soldiers observing ship loading when the General came into view, saying thank you over and over to anybody he passed while inspecting combat troops.

A man who later was called Ike in the newspapers, was at that time General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The Tech 4 stripes on my uniform not matching the four stars on his shoulder, I snapped a salute as the future president said "thank you soldier" and strode along the ranks. No handshake.

The next president's hand I shook was that of President Harry Truman when on a campaign tour. The president, had taken over the office at the death of President Roosevelt and was running for a full term.

President John F. Kennedy I knew as a reporter when he was a lesser figure in politics, enough so that I could, like other reporters, call him Jack. In my same reporterial capacity I also met on a few occasions his future bride, Jacqueline Bouvier.

There came a succession of presidents after President Kennedy, none of whom I knew other than by name until I was a resident in my present locale

President George Walker Bush, now our most recent former president, spoke to 20,000 or so people here while on the campaign trail for his second term. With my wonderful wife at my side, I got a good view of President Bush from about 150 feet away, but - no handshake.

Now, I seem to tote up the swearing-ins of presidents during my lifetime at 21 or 22. Yarntangler helped me count 'em and we both came up with different figures.

We were not (and still aren't) sure if ascending to office from the vice preidency in the several instances through the years counted as inaugurations. I am going to leave it up to you folks (again) to do the math.

- 30 -

Old Newsie

Monday, January 19, 2009

Good Luck Mr. President

President Barack Obama has become the first symbol of the "change" which was touted so long in the 2008 Presidential campaign.

(I can call him president at this writing since he is only hours away from his new title and from becoming our nation's leader) .

I say "symbol" of change in this manner - President Obama has changed history by becoming the first non-white to hold our nation's highest office.

That said, I now welcome the change that has been overdue since long before President Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation; a change reflecting the words of our country's constitution, "that all men are created equal."

I applaud the beginning of a new era of "all men are created equal". Despite my vote for President Obama's opponent, I shall respect our new president and pray President Obama will succeed in achieving the changes he believes will help the United States to recover and maintain its stability, its reputation and respect worldwide.

- 30 -

Old Newsie

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Somebody Said . . . "How Did - . . .

. . . You Get Into Newspapering?"

I've been asked that question (many times) in the past. There's several versions of how it happened but the most logical one arises from my curiosity and the curiosity of my neighbors in my hometown.

You see, the local newspaper staff was small and reporters did not always get around to "covering" the smaller news of various neighborhoods and thus the folks who heard fire trucks or police cars going someplace they often never found out what was going on.

Way back in 1928 there was a big fire in the school where I was in the first grade. The whole place burned to the ground. My mother's cousin Mr. Jack was one of the firemen who tried to put out the fire.

I pestered Mr. Jack with many questions about why and how the fire started and burned everything. He told my mother "some day he'll be a reporter." It was a few years later that my curiosity popped up again after some of the neighbors who heard fire trucks said "I wonder where the fire is?"

One afternoon Engine 4 was headed up Bay Street toward a lot of heavy smoke in the sky. I ran as fast as I could for a few blocks until I got to the smoke and saw the fire coming out of the upstairs window of a house and a fireman carrying a lady down a ladder.

Mr. Jack was there helping the fireman on the ladder. I asked him if the lady was hurt and he said no. I asked him who she was and he said he did not know and told me to mind my own business and read about it in the paper the next day.

But I wanted to know then so I went to the lady and asked her who she was and what happened.
She told me and said who the other people were who lived in the house. I ran home and telephoned to the newspaper and talked to a Mr. Eddie, the man my daddy told me was the city editor.

I told him what I found out and it was in the paper the next day. Mr. Eddie checked , I am sure, with the fire department about my information. A few days later I went to another fire and called Mr. Eddie again with things I found out.

I did that a lot in my neighborhood . One day when I called Mr. Eddie he answered the telephone and said "Hi Cubbie." I didn't know then what that meant.

After a while, I got tired of running after the fire engines. I saw a old bicycle in a man's yard. I asked the man if I could have it and Mr. Joe said I could have it if I had five dollars. I don't remember where I got five dollars but I did and I got the bicycle and rode it to the next fire.

That was a big mistake because I found out the bicycle was too high, and the seat was too big. I had to slide on the seat side to side to reach the pedals and after the first ride - it was a long one - I discovered I had rubbed the skin off the inside of both my legs, high up, and I hurt bad. I got used to the bicycle just the same after I got a new seat and lowered it down.

On another afternoon in front of Brown's Drug store when I was passing a parked auto, the driver opened his door and I had to swerve out of the way. Engine 4 hit the bicycle and me. I fell and hurt my head and the bicycle was wrecked.

Mr. Eddie thought that was a good story, along with the fire I "covered". He put a headline on it that said "Reporter Hit by Fire Truck." When I called the next time with a fire story Mr. Eddie called me a cub reporter and said that he would pay me 10 cents for every good story I called in.

My stories were not all good but another house fire story came out in the paper and under the headline it said "By Our Whittenton Reporter."

Time went by and I was graduated from high school and got two part time jobs, one pumping gasoline (at a cheap price) and the other job training to operate machinery at the city newspaper.
The boss at the gas station came to me about four o'clock on the afternoon of Decemer 7, 1941 and told me that a radio announcer and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt just said that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and the country was at war.

"They called from the paper and said they needed you to work, so you go ahead down," Mr, Jim said. When I got there Mr. Eddie said "you've alway said you wanted to be a reporter so go upstairs and see Mr. Parker and he'll tell you what to do."

For about three hours I was on the telephone talking with the dads and moms of soldiers, sailors and aviators who were in Pearl Harbor and writing short stories about them. Maybe that night was the time I actually got to be a real reporter

Then when time came that the "War Extra" was ready to be printed, I went downstairs to work in the pressroom where there was only one man working putting plates on the big press. As he finished he yelled to me "Mr. Owen hasn't come in yet but did he show you how to start the press?"

Whe I answered yes, he looked around again for Mr. Owen and Mr. McKenna, didn't see them ,and said, "well, they never showed me so start it rolling." Mr. Owen came in about 10 minutes later and said to me after inspecting the papers, "you've done it right." On the next payday, I found a 10 cents an hour raise in my paycheck.

Then I went into the Army for three years. My papers showed I had written news, so besides my engineer field duty in England, I was assigned to write articles now and then for "STARS AND STRIPES, " the Army newspaper, and for the "Hometown News Service" in Kansas.

After the war, the local newspaper owner urged me to go to journalism college. I didn't. I should have. There's more but I've said all that's important for right now.

Old Newsie

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It Only Took Two Years . . .

. . . to start having FUN.

Blog is a word that wasn't a word in 1923 when I was born or even in 1973 when I was 50. About this time back in 2007 still had never heard of the word until my number one daughter enlightened me

She told me a blog is FUN. She doesn't know how much FUN she had gotten me into.

I am going to try to have FUN starting right now but really the FUN began two years ago.

First, I did a bloody blog under another title and promptly filed it somewhere in this computer, never to be found again. I wrote to my dear daughter about it.

"Dear Daughter - When I phoned you, you told me to look into your blog to answer the questions I had. I clicked on your blog and it came right up -IN SPANISH. Now how did that happen?

"I phoned you again and you laughed and laughed at me, laughed so hard you choked because you already had a bad cold and a sore throat."

"I didn't get any solutions from you so I just fooled around, clicking here and there and finally on "refresh" and that did it - up came RAMBLINGS -oh no !- in Japanese! I have nothing against that language except that those squiggly lines and dingbats didn't make any sense to me.

"I hit refresh again and lo the squiggly things turned into letters - in Portuguese. Frantically I tried again and traveled through Korean, French and a few other unkown (to me) languages until I finally spotted some flags. Didn't find a US flag but did hit on the British emblem and up came RAMBLINGS in English."

Daughter number one kept on laughing; probably still is laughing.

I followed all the blogger instructions and created a new one under a new title. Then all I had to do was put it into a place I would find it the next day or so. Guess what? Lost that one too! I've decided to try again now- two years later - and I THINK that real soon I will be a blogger.