Saturday, November 20, 2010

History - On The Road Again

Our grandchildren do not know what their grandmother went through in her marriage. This should be instructive for those that cannot move from home, or their city. Here is what Pat did. After getting married, she moved with her Navy husband to Boston, Massachusetts. While in Boston she lived at three different address: Beachmont, Massachusetts Ave. and Beacon St. We did not have much in goods to move and rented furnished each time. When I got transferred to Norfolk, Virginia she moved back to Detroit. When I bought a trailer on the outskirts of Norfolk she moved there. She got a job in the U.S. Civil Service and stayed until I was discharged from the Navy. After that we moved to Detroit and lived with her parents until we bought our new, threee-bedroom, one-bath house in Allen Park, Michigan. Five of our children were born at that house. We did not have money for furniture so we did without for nearly two years. After Tim was born we knew we needed a larger house. We built a five-bedroom, three-bath, four story house in Redford Township. Our family of eight fit in it just fine, plenty of room for everybody. Pat got everybody settled into new schools. We decided to move to Florida for two reasons: Colleen was always coughing, Pat and I got tired of the cold weather. I quit my job at Ford and went to Miami to find a job in the sun. By this time we had furniture to move and my new employer agreed to pay for the move. I was working in Miami and Pat was the person that handled the move. She had to pack everything for everybody and let me know when to come up and we would all drive down together. We only had one car at this time. I had rented a house in Miami for the furniture destination. Pat and the kids lived in a motel until the furniture would arrive. She and the six kids stayed at that motel for almost two weeks because the truck carrying the furniture had a fire. All our stuff was either burnt or had smoke dammage. Pat had to drive me to work each morning and return to get me each evening. The house I had rented went to someone else and Pat spent some time house hunting with all the kids. She found a three-bedroom, one-bath house in South Miami and we moved in when the furniture was available. I lost nearly all my college books in that fire. We soon found we were too crowded and Pat found a house with three-bedrooms, two-baths and a swimming pool. Again, she packed everybody up and we moved. After four years I lost my job, could not find one in Miami, and went back to Detroit for a job. I found a job in Roseville, MI. and a house in Fraser, MI. Once more, Pat packed everything, got all the school transcripts, and drove up with the kids in the station wagon. The house I had rented was a three-level, three-bedroom, two-bath home. The boys had to sleep in a hide-a-bed couch and make that bed into a couch every day because they slept in the family room. After three years, I left my job for more money and we had to move to Van Wert, Ohio. I rented two side-by-side apartments, had a doorway put between them, and it gave us four bedrooms, two baths, two front rooms and two kitchens. I was only ten minutes to work. I had a company car to drive so Pat did not have to get up as early in the morning to drive me to work. Pat, once more, packed everything up in Fraser and I drove up to get the family and drive down with them. I was in Van Wert for less than a year and lost the job. I went back to Detroit to get a job and lived with my parents for a while. Pat stayed in Van Wert until our fates were decided. I got a job in my trade, Automotive Body Designer, but Pat kept saying: "Get us back to Miami," she had had it with Van Wert. I quit my job in Detroit and went to Miami looking for a job. When I found one, Pat was anxious to move down and I found a house with a pool. Again, she packed everything, got in the station wagon and drove down to Miami. We were not pleased with this house, the pool had a leak and the owner would not fix it. Pat searched for another house. She found one in the same neighborhood we had been in before, but no pool. It soon became clear that we needed a pool and Pat found one not too far from where we had lived before. This house had a pool, four-bedrooms and two-bathrooms. After a few years here our situation seemed settled and Pat looked for a place to buy. She found one close by and we bought it, no pool. (I was getting tired of caring for a pool and the kids were not using it much.) I left my job and got more money in Pompano Beach, FL. I commuted there each day, ninety-five miiles round trip. The money was worth it, we also had two cars by now. Eventually, I got a very good job offer in Westland, MI. In a discussion we had, Pat said: "I will stay here and wait for you to get another job in Miami." Sure enough, I was back in Miami in a year, she had dodged another round trip move. After four years, I recieved another good offer in Westland, MI. Once more, Pat said I will wait for you here. I lost that job and found one in Misshawaka, Indiana. Pat passed on that one also. Later, I found a job in Gainsville, Georgia. At this time, all the kids had left home and were living on their own. She was left only with her Mother, Rose. She was working at Eastern Airlines at the time and this time she said, hmmmmm. I can transfer to the Atlanta airport, we could get a house between the places we work, "I'll do it." She sold the house in Miami and moved to a rented house in Norcross, GA. After one year, my company downsized and I was out of a job. I found one in Columbus, Mississippi but Pat said, "You commute, I am not moving to a small town again. I lived in Columbus during the week and drove to Norcross on the weekends. Later, the unions took Eastern airlines to bankruptcy and Pat was out of a job. When Rose died Pat was alone in Norcross. I left my job in Columbus and took a better one in Westland, MI. By this time Pat was not a cold weather girl and said I want to be back in south Florida. She decided to build a retirement home in Naples Florida. She lived there more than a year and decided she wanted to be near some of our kids. She sold the house in Naples and moved to a place in Green Cove Springs, Florida to be near Dawn who lived in Orange Park. When I retired I moved to Green Cove Springs. Dawn and all three of her children, individually, moved to Chicago or Millwalkee. We were now alone in Green Cove Springs and Pat still had a desire to be near some of the kids. She decided to move to McDonough, Georgia to be near Duane and Cheryl. She had a condominium built, three-bedrooms, two-baths, gated community and moved there three years ago. Is it any wonder that when she hears of relatives that will not leave a location they are in to get a job, she looks down on them? Or those that must stay near Mom because they would not know how to run their own lives. Where is the sense of adventure? Where is the taking a chance on your own adaptability? Why the shirking of hard work? Is comfort placed so high that it removes the ability to live a full and rewarding life? She hears of discontent, dropping hopes and obsenities yet, it is she who knows what it is to venture out into the unknown, solve the problems of a new location, work all day to make a home, all while taking care of six kids. She is a hero. She is not like other moms. She is an accomplished worker, care giver, gifted artisan, home maker and lives life to the fullest. It takes life to love life. And, she is beautiful.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Electioneering Overload

Will they ever stop! No sooner has one election been decided, we are now treated to what the media loves to do, talk about candidates for the next election. Give me a break! Find something else I may be interested in. Already, I am using the mute button for it's intended purpose, shutting off what is not wanted. I may wear out my mute button during the next year and a half. Four years ago we were treated to the possibility that Condalezza Rice would definitely be running against Hillary Clinton, we saw how that worked out. The media is more than likely getting it wrong now. Why should I be interested in their prognostications.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


After my class at the "Y", while sitting in the lobby, there were four of us talking. I was conversing with Victor about his business, auto repair for foreign vehicles. We became silent as we overheard the other two talking. Jeff is an Obama supporter and Fred is non-partisan. They were talking about how poorly Obama is doing. Jeff thought he was doing great and Fred was rebutting. Since I was only overhearing their conversation I cannot be certain of all that I think I understood. Fred was talking about government waste and Jeff had asked for an example. Fred said food cards are a good example because many people that have them do not really need them. Jeff thought that was a crock. Then Fred said, "Even I get some benefit from them because my neighbor has a card and I get $100 worth of food by only giving her $50 for using her card." Jeff asked what she does with the $50 and why doesn't she buy food. Fred said, "She buys cigarettes and other things, she really does not need the card." I was aghast at what I heard because I thought highly of Fred. This caused me to change my opinion of him, lowering it. Victor and I did not look at one another. I knew he was thinking the same thing I was, this is not right.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fruit Of The Spirit

In the sixth grade at St. Gabriel's, I remember a Religion class in which we were being told about the Holy Spirit. We were being taught from the Catechism and had just finished the seven deadly sins of the flesh. Sister read off the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; all these came from the Spirit. One of the kids asked what longsuffering was and Sister answered. I recall thinking I still did not know what it was, but I was not going to ask for further clarification. I was the kind of student that sat back and listened to all that was being said, not one that created controversy. It is curious that the list of the fruit of the Spirit has this one that implies some form of discomfort or even pain. The others all seem to be beneficial or desirable, but longsuffering appears to be something that is not desirable, too be avoided if at all possible. Yet, it is a fruit. Today, I believe I know what longsuffering is and how it applies to the human condition. For instance: when a person realizes that their marriage was a mistake and decides to stay in it for whatever reason, it is longsuffering that enables the person to continue living a normal life. The other fruit of the Spirit still remains to be savored and life can still be happy. Another example: when a person has an accident and is maimed in some way, it is the fruit of the Spirit, longsuffering, that enables them to live a normal life. I have met people that do not have an understanding of the Spirit that is in them. They live lives that are less than optimal, yet, are unaware of the power that they might call upon. These are unhappy people and I can only wish them well in their life journey.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

John Oliver

Back in 1938, 39, and 40 the bikes that kids used in our neighborhood were mostly made up from junked parts. They included a frame, handlebars, pedals, seat and two wheels. Most bikes had missing parts such as: chain guard, fenders, handle grips and baskets. All bikes had parts that were in poor condition, such as: tires and their tubes, worn seats, rusty handlebars, cut up handle grips, greasy chains, missing or bent spokes. Bikes were basically transportation for nearby places, nobody went far on his bike. It was not unusual to go over to a gang members house and see him working on his bike. The most usual repair was for a flat tire. When I was young I never saw a bicycle tube that did not have patches. Every kid knew how to patch a tube. A tube patch kit cost nine cents and included a tube of adhesive, some pre-cut patches, a sheet of patching material for larger problems. The cap had a rasp punched into it for scoring up the tube prior to patching. All bike owners had a wrench for removing a wheel in order to extract the tube for repair. The tricky part came when it was a rear wheel that was flat and the chain had to be removed to get at the tube. I was most impressed when I first witnessed a chain removed and later put on using the removable link. Bike culture included the swapping of handlebars, painting the frame, affixing a basket to the front, adding a bell, straightening out handlebars or fenders after a bike had fallen, replacing spokes that were broken, even applying the correct amount of oil or grease to a chain. Nobody had the money for a new bike and all kids were in the same boat trying to get more life out of their bike. Older brothers that moved away or went into the Army handed down their bikes to their younger brothers. Nothing went to waste. While playing football in Bennett school ground one day a new kid appeared and asked to play. As we played I noticed his shoes, they were very good shoes and they stood out in comparison to the sneakers and old shoes everyone else was wearing. This was my first meeting with John Oliver. As we played, I became aware of some kids exclaiming about a nice bike leaning along the brick wall. A small group had gathered around the bike which caused the game to halt and all went to investigate. John Oliver had come on this bike and it was a beauty. It looked freshly new with everything that could be added to it. The stir it caused can be likened to what would happen if a Lamborghini car had appeared at a Ford and Chevy rally. It even had a speedometer, something I did not know existed. It also had: a front light, two-tone painted fenders, large reflector in the rear, reflectors on the pedals, exquisite handle grips, a luggage carrier over the rear tire, a horn, wide seat with springs, two springs for a front wheel suspension, Xanadu. I think the game ended there as we kept admiring this bike. I noted an emblem on the bike, it was a Schwinn. I looked closer at John and noticed he had a collared shirt and his pants were pressed. He was playing in his good clothes. I always had to go home from school in order to change out of school clothes, and other kids did too. Yet, every time that we saw John he was wearing good clothes that always seemed pressed, as if he had no play clothes. He was a cool kid. He lived on the other side of Verner and I never saw his house but I felt it must be made of brick. He always had money for a drink after playing, which many of us did not. John Oliver always rode his bike when he came to play and every time he came we always admired his bike, it was a beauty. He only lived in the neighborhood for about a year and then moved away. He opened a window that I had never seen through before. Through that window I saw my first view of a different kind of life, affluence.