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Christmas Cash,Costs,Challenges of The Ozarks 1960s

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Christmas Cash,Costs, Challenges

of

The

Ozarks’

1960s

THE OZARKS OLD HOUSE_Photo by Samuel E Warren Jr_resized

The Old House

Of The Ozarks

This small house beside Missouri State Highway 176 in Stone County, Missouri in The Ozarks can go unnoticed by passing motorists. This Old House served as The DeLong Family Home in the 1960s. Birthday parties, Fourth of July, Halloween Trick or Treat events,Thanksgiving Supper and Christmas Day Dinner celebrations were held in the three – room house, which had a Laundry Room built on in the 1970s. There was no inside plumbing. Uncle Joe built an Outhouse down on the hillside. While the house did not have the social comforts of some 20th Century homes in The Ozarks; it always felt like “Home” to DeLong family members, who returned to Stone County and the Missouri Ozarks anytime of the year. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

christmas-tree-logo-photo-two-thumbnail_thumb[1]Home in my childhood was “The Ozarks.”

 

The Ozarks is one of the places in the world, where myth and reality live side by side.

 

You live your life in The Real World and sometimes it seems like you look up and see a wild,white-haired Mark Twain smiling down at you with his pen in hand.

 

The heavy snows of winter fall. The scene looks like a Currier and Ives lithograph on a china plate and then you feel the “bone chilling cold” enter your body. You see your breath. You trudge out of the knee-high snow into the warmth of your home.

 

You “warm” by the large, rectangular, dark brown “Warm Morning” gas stove and realize winter in The Ozarks means Christmas is usually just days away.

 

You get a hot cup of coffee and wonder why people think The Ozarks is “permanently stuck in an 1800s Time Warp.”

 

MV5BMTUzNzE1MjY0MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDE3MjU1MQ@@._V1._SX359_SY500_If you ever watched an episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies” you may believe the fictional characters represent “Life In The Ozarks.”

 

You would be wrong.

 

I grew up in the Ozarks and I never ate possum.

 

I have ate squirrel.

 

Uncle Hobert DeLong was a “dead on shot” with a rifle. Every time he went into the woods, he came back with a “mess of squirrels” and sometimes “a mess of rabbits.”

 

Of course, no one remembers Jed, granny and the rest of the Clampett were supposed to have been from Bugtussel, Tennessee and the characters get associated with The Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks.

 

Cartoonist Al Capp made a large fortune drawing the comic strip of Lil’ Abner for 43th years that reached 60 million readers in more than 900 American newspapers.

 

Capp’s newspaper comic strip was one of my mother’s favorites. Capp put the characters in Dogpatch, Kentucky, but as a kid everyone though if you were from The Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks, then, you must be like Lil’ Abner.

 

I never went to a Sadie Hawkin’s Day dance.

 

Dancing wasn’t allowed at Galena High School in the 1960s. It was an issue that came up with every senior class wanting a “Prom.” The Baptist and Pentecostal churches of the 1960s in Stone County were vocal in their objections and they kept the prom dance out of school.

 

I graduated in 1973 in a “Graduation Exercises” ceremony, but there was “No Prom” because the churches still didn’t allow dancing in school.

 

 

 

The Ozarks Hillbilly Stereotype

 

No matter how incorrect the “hillbilly” stereotype is about The Ozarks. Americans and foreigners seem to cling to the dumb hayseed and lazy cartoon and television stereotypes of “The Ozarks Hillbilly.”

 

The irony is that the Ozarks is pretty close to the center of the United States and it has always seemed like an “undiscovered country” to foreigners and other Americans.

 

My geographical calculations of “The Ozarks” begins from the southern city limits sign of Jefferson City to the southern city limits sign of Little Rock, Arkansas, which is what I always considered to be, “The Ozarks.”

 

Stone County, Missouri is in the southwest section of the state and borders Arkansas, which means, “reckon I grew up one of them thar’ Ozarks’ country boys.”

 

Missourians in the Ozarks joke, “If you don’t like the weather just wait 15 minutes and it will change.” There is truth to that joke. The weather doesn’t always change every 15 minutes, but in a 24-hour day, the weather can change several times in a day.

 

Pen To Paper

 

To put pen to paper and write a story about Christmas in The Ozarks, I will have to set the stage.

 

There are many famous Missourians from United States Army Generals of the Armies John Joseph “Blackjack” Pershing to “The Most Trusted Man In America” Walter Cronkite, but, usually the celebrities are known as Missourians and not necessarily, “Ozarkers.”

 

Neosho, Missouri’s Thomas Hart Benton put his brush strokes on canvas to paint pictures; I will try to paint a word picture of life in The Ozarks in the 1960s.

 

Tom Sawyer Childhood

 

Life in “The Ozarks” in Stone County, Missouri in the 1960s was like “Tom Sawyer on a tractor and in a pickup truck.” Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Midwest buckboards and stagecoaches were replaced by 18-wheelers, Greyhound and Continental Trailways buses.

 

Rose O’Neill’s Kewpie dolls could be still found in toy stores in the Ozarks. Overall, Life in southern Missouri had not changed all that much since the days of Mark Twain, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose O’Neill.

 

The Tomato Factories” of Reeds Spring, Abesville, and Galena in the 1930s had been replaced with “The Garment Factory” in Reeds Spring and Crane and Crane had a “Casket Factory.”

 

Fasco in Springfield, Missouri employed several people from Stone County. In 1960, Silver Dollar City was just beginning operations. Branson, Missouri in 1960 was “no threat” to country music in Nashville, but, Nashville musicians would begin to head for Branson, during the 1960s. In the area of economics, “times were tough”, in Stone County and southwest Missouri in 1960.

 

Blood Out Of A Turnip

 

Every nation has an economy. Money flows around in the metropolitan and urban areas, but in rural areas the ocean of money flows into a narrow stream that sometimes becomes a dry creek bed. In Stone County, it seemed even the rocks in the creek bed were usually “bone dry.”

 

After The Great Depression and World War II, the United States economy was strengthening. In the rural areas of the Ozarks, being “poor” is still a way of life.

 

In the early 1960s, the local power companies were working hard to provide, stable and reliable electricity.

 

Stone County, Missouri had a reputation of being one of the poorest counties in The Show Me State.

 

Traditionally in Missouri, statistics reveal “Mining” is the major source of manual labor income for the state. Farming comes in second. There were caves in Stone County, but no working mines.

 

Farming is hard work. Even with good weather and the money to buy seeds, livestock and equipment, farming is a full-time job to make a living.

 

Gardening maybe a hobby; Farming is a job.

 

Grandma DeLong like to sum up an economic situation as, “I couldn’t afford to make a down payment on an old settin’ hen with all her eggs rotten.” The purpose of this country statement was to point out that someone was “financially broke.” It was a common financial phrase that you heard in The Ozarks in the 1960s.

 

By 1960s, some farmers in Stone County had had it with “life on the farm.” Some people sold their farms and moved to other states. Some people stayed on their farms, but tried to get a “public job” at Silver Dollar City.

 

When it came to money in Stone County, Missouri and The Ozarks in the 1960s “people minded their Ps and Qs” and sometimes the lack of money was described as “Trying to get blood out of a turnip.”

 

Ozarks Hills And Hollers

 

Corn and tomatoes were the big income producing crops in Stone County, Missouri in my childhood in the 1960s. There were always stories of some of the corn being used to produce “moonshine” and “white lightning.”

 

In the early 1980s, I was “home on leave” from the military and a family friend unscrewed the lid on a Mason jar and asked me if I wanted some of the clear liquid.

 

I thanked him, but decided not to drink the “white lightning.”

 

The geography of Stone County had some cliffs and bluffs in the landscape of the hills and hollers. When the soil was too rough, rocky or poor to raise any other crop, usually the farmer would sew cane and other pasture grasses.

 

Fertilize was not all that expensive, but, the amount needed to nourish the soil and get crops to grow was sometimes too big a chunk of money out of a farmer’s budget.

 

Uncle Richard had one field beside State Highway 176, that the family called, “The Cane Field” because it was too rocky and the soil too poor for any other crop. The cane was used to feed to the cattle in the winter time,

 

Spring and summer usually the crops grew well and there was plenty of pasture to feed the livestock. Farmers didn’t get rich, but they made “the ends meet.”

 

Deep Freeze

 

Winter in southwest Missouri in the 1960s was always Armageddon. Fields were buried under blankets of deep snow. The important contribution of the deep snow and cold temperatures is the weather would kill off chiggers, ticks and snakes as long as farmers burned the brush in their fields and hollers in the early falls.

 

Burning the tree leaves in the hollers that fell kept deep leave beds from filling up the hollers. In the winter time, chigger, ticks and snakes would burrow into the deep leaves to try and wait out the winter until spring.

 

Southwest Missouri’s picture postcard “snows” were efficient in freezing farm ponds, which stayed frozen unless you broke the ice with an ax for the cattle to get a drink.

 

The weight of a Black Angus, Polled Hereford, Jersey or Holstein cow would sometimes shatter the ice and a cow could drown trying to get a drink of water in the winter.

 

Later in the 1960s, someone invented a device to stick in farm ponds in the winter to keep the water from freezing.

 

The deep freeze of the Ozarks in winter would freeze trees. The weight of ice on the limbs would cause the limbs to fall and take down electric lines. If you were lucky, you would be without electricity for a day.

 

On average people usually went without electricity for two to three days usually two to three times,during winter from October through April. The worst case scenario meant you would go without electricity for one to two weeks during the winter.

 

A Country Mile

 

The strength of my childhood came from my family in the Ozarks. Momma, Grandma DeLong, Uncle Richard, Uncle Hobert, Aunt Mary, and Cousin Donna were my family in the Ozarks.

 

In Houston, Texas, I could step out in my front yard. Donna and Debbie Brinkley from the house next door only had to walk out their gate and a few feet to walk into my yard for us to play.

 

In the Ozarks, neighbors always seemed to live a country mile from your front door.

 

Thelma Thomas was my closet neighbor in 1960 and she lived about a tenth of a mile from my front door on top of a hill. Her kids were grown with families of their own.

 

The Galena School District usually included Jenkins and Wheelerville, Missouri, which was only a few miles from Crane, Missouri. And, Crane, Missouri was 10 miles from Galena.The district would extend south to almost Reeds Spring, which was about 15 miles from Galena.

 

Many of my classmates would have to do chores before catching the school bus in the morning. The bus ride for some of the kids meant they were on the school bus for two hours before they arrived at Galena Elementary or Galena High School. After school, they would spend two hours on the bus once it left the school.

 

You would see classmates in school, but the distances and the rural road conditions to their parents’ farms meant that “visits” and social interaction was almost impossible, except for possibly on the weekend.

 

Crane, Missouri was only 10 miles from Galena and we usually only went grocery shopping in Crane on Saturdays.

 

 

 

Life On Planet Earth Before Electronics”

 

Children of the 21st Century will think I grew up in The Dark Ages because there was no Internet, no facebook, no twitter, no computers, no X box, no play station and no cell phones.

 

Yes, there was “Life On Planet Earth Before Electronics.”

 

Fire had been discovered. My father always carried his Zippo cigarette lighter.

 

We didn’t have to use stone tablets and chisels because there was an archaic device called, a typewriter that used ribbons, bond paper and carbon paper that helped people put words on paper for future generations.

 

Telephones Come To Stone County

 

Telephones were being installed in homes, near Galena and Abesville, Missouri.

 

In order to have a telephone in your home if you lived near State Highway 176, you had to be willing to be on “a party line”, which meant when your phone rang, your neighbors telephone gave off a jangle sound,

 

There was one public telephone booth in Galena, Missouri. The phone booth was on the sidewalk by the US Post Office, next to Floyd’s Barber shop, which was next to Rose’s beauty shop, which was next to the Hillbilly Cafe and sat across the street from the courthouse. In 2011, that area is now a parking lot for The Stone County Judicial Center.

 

The reason why the telephone was so important in 1960 was it allowed Momma to call Daddy in Texas and he could call her from Texas. Grandma and Uncle Richard never had a telephone. DeLong and Warren family members, who lived in other states could call us and we could call them.

 

In the 21st Century, when it seems children own a cell phone as soon as they learn to speak; it may be hard to imagine the importance of a telephone in your home, but, imagine for a moment that you lived in the snow and ice of the South Pole and you were trying to make a phone call to your grandparents in the United States.

 

If your grandparents lived in a city like Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles or New York City, it would be easy for them to place a call. But, if you lived in a remote location at the South Pole, there might not be phone lines or cell phone towers, so you might not get the phone call.

Old Missouri Spring Photo by Junior Warren1

Old Missouri Spring

This old spring is on Warren Land in Stone County, Missouri. The Ozarks area of the United States has always been difficult for “people to live off the land” because the soil is poor and rocky. If you need rain; you will get a drought. If you need sunshine;you will get a flood. Nature seems to enjoy working against farmers. Wildlife and insect pest can have a negative effect on crops. The Old Traditional Ozarks Hillbilly concept portrays citizens as dumb and lazy. The truth is an Ozarks Hillbilly is one of the smartest and hard working people, you will ever meet because they use their elbow grease and common sense to work a “Miracle” on stubborn pieces of land to earn a living and raise their families. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

 

The Miracle Of Life In The Ozarks

 

When you think of “The Ozarks” in the 1960s; you understand the word, “Miracle” is a reality.

 

The Ozarks’ lunar style geography of cliffs and bluffs, poor soil, an over abundance of rocks, moody weather, predator wildlife like wolves and coyotes as well as insect pests; it is a “Miracle” that people were able to live, earn a living, and sometimes prosper in this section of the United States.

 

When you are a child, you open your toys on Christmas Day. Underneath the Christmas Tree, you begin to play with the toys.

 

As a young man, you can find yourself trying to decide if you want to go “Home For The Holidays.”

 

As a senior citizen you can sit back with a cup of coffee or a glass of egg nog and remember the toys and the celebrations. When you look back long enough at your childhood, you really begin to understand and appreciate the sacrifices that your parents made for you.

 

At last, you can understand, the challenges, costs,hard work and the effort that your parents made to make Christmas seem like a “Magickal Holiday” that simply happens.

Sam

thumbnail 1 old missouri spring

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

December 23, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Business, Crafts, Current Events, Ecology, Editorial, Family, Holidays, Money, Nature, Opinion, Patriotism, Rocks, Stone County History, The Ozarks, Tourism

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“ Should I Join The Military ? ” Editorial

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The Samuel E. Warren Jr.’s

Should I Enlist In The Military ? “ Editorial

 

Salute Your Military Veteran

STAFF SERGEANT RANK_resized

 

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

A young man or woman, who reaches “the age of enlistment” has a decision to make: “Should I join the military ?”

 

Only you can make that decision.

 

I guarantee you “military service” will change your life.

 

Your mother loves you and brought you into this world, so Mom will “Pray” that you don’t enlist because people die in War. It is to be expected that your Mom would prefer you choose another line of work.

 

Everyone forgets “civilians”, the ordinary citizens of the world also happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and also die in War. War is an event that does not “check I. D.s” or decides only “people in uniform” can die in War.

 

Your father loves you and, probably, would prefer you to choose a different job. Unfortunately, for “Dear Ole’ Dad”, centuries of world history have embodied the “Macho Mythology” that a man is suppose to live for War.

 

Horsefeathers !”

 

No one lives for War.

 

War is an event that ends lives in the blink of an eye, leaves land in rubble and contributes to generations of negative emotions, “hard feelings,” suspicion, and in some cases “down right hate.”

 

Your father will find it hard to express his emotions and views on whether he believes you should or should not “join the military.”

 

But, even if your father never finds the words – look in his eyes. Respect is a virtue that shines out through the eyes.

 

Family members will all have an opinion about whether you should “enlist.” Be polite and courteous and listen to their words, which reveals their feelings.

 

Friends will tell you their “fad of the moment reaction.” Throughout world history there are times when the perspective of military service or a military career is popular or unpopular.

 

The Vietnam War was extremely unpopular so the military was called, “The American Military Industrial Complex.”

 

And, “The Draft” made sure enlistment age men did not have to make the decision; the decision was made for them by the politicians of government. You either reported for military service or you went to Canada, Mexico or ran the risk of being sent to jail. No choice.

 

The Gulf War was a popular War. United States Government politicians learned a “War has to be marketed.” The advertising campaign worked. Enthusiasm, adrenaline and patriotism had young Americans lining up to “die for oil”.

 

Global governments can remain dependent on oil – the “Dead Dinosaur Stew.” No one has to think about the War cost of human life, in terms of, “Marines Per Gallon.”

 

Youth to middle age is the “Time Of Life About Passion” and your decisions are made to reflect the “heat of passion” and “to live in the moment.” Youth is about optimism, hope and idealism. Youth is the passion to want and work for a better world.

 

Middle age and older is the reality that Life is about paying bills, buying groceries and raising kids. Middle age means you learn to temper the passion of youth with the reality of daily life and the practical responsibilities that come with it.

 

In the United States Armed Forces the traditional term of enlistment is four years. A lot can happen in your life in four years.

 

You can join the military in “Peace time,” but, War doesn’t use a day planner. War can happen at any time. If you are on active duty or the reserves, when War begins. . .”Here are your orders. Get your gear and report to the flight line.”

 

In making your decision to join the military, forget what your girlfriend or boyfriend has to say. Unless, you are walking down the aisle and, then, into the military recruiter’s office to raise your right hand.

 

A girlfriend or boyfriend’s opinion means “Nothing” because you can change your mind about the person and end the relationship at any time.

 

A “new husband” or a “new wife” is a opinion that you should listen to about your consideration to join the military and the decision to enlist or accept a commission, if it sounds like that person is going to stand beside you and share your life.

 

In the United States Armed Forces, a spouse is as much on active duty as the military member because “Uncle Sam’s” decisions will affect the both of you.

 

Uncle Sam ain’t a family man.

unclesam

 

The mission of the government and the military always comes first.

 

If you want to be the best Little League Coach In United States History and influence generations of little bat swingers and base runners, then, pursue your dream, but: Stay Home. Don’t enlist.

 

The Real World military is not some silly baseball, basketball, football, soccer or golf game; it is a serious,professional calling that saves lives and carries forward a nation’s domestic and foreign policy in no uncertain terms.

 

At the end of the day, it will be you, who signs your signature on the forms and raises your right hand to recite the oath of military service.

 

I joined the United States Air Force because I needed a job.

 

I had been a professional “college student” long enough. I had taken the courses I needed and the “underwater basket weaving” courses that I found interesting. I still didn’t have a clue what I was going to do with “MY” Life.

 

I wanted to make a positive difference in the world.

 

I could never imagine “Mr. Warren” teaching history at Galena High School in Galena, Missouri.

 

Teaching history was never going to put me in the history books alongside General MacArthur or General Patton.

 

Mark Twain had already done the Missouri writer, author and newspaperman routine.

 

Missourian Walter Cronkite was still doing the “CBS Evening News” at the time and as a newsman ranked up there right alongside the president of the United States and all world leaders when it came to being an “international celebrity.”

 

Cronkite’s “credibility” as a newsman and a human being put him shoulder to shoulder with the pope.

 

Like all young men and women, I wanted my shot to help change the world.

 

It is nice to think someday some bored teenager is going to be looking at a photo of you in a history book and scoff, “What did you ever do that was so great ?”

 

All the great jobs and wonderful slots in history had already been taken when I decided to go “eyeball to eyeball with the world.”

 

Missourian General John J. “Blackjack” Pershing had already become the highest ranking American General after General George Washington, so, earning a place in US History or Military History would not be easy.

 

The reality is “Every man or woman, who earns the honor to wear their nation’s military uniform becomes a world leader, even if no one ever publishes their life story or pictures of the person in a history book. Day to day, military service has you carrying out tasks that carry your nation’s policies forward into making a positive change in the world.”

 

Everyone who wears a military uniform and works on behalf of their nation is a world leader.

 

If I were to walk into a room with the Queen of England, the pope, a president, a prime minister and a person in uniform. I would be respectful and polite to the people in the room. I would go to “The G.I.”, the person in uniform to talk and socialize because a military person is a unique person, who has a definite view and understanding of life.

 

The G.I., understands that life is about nobility, honor, credibility, loyalty and hard work. The G.I., understands courage and patriotism are virtues inscribed in your DNA and those virtues have to be lived and not taught or talked about.

 

A G.I., hopes to live long enough to tell “war stories” to his grand kids, but realizes Warribbon_small2 is the event that might require him or her to sacrifice his or her life for their fellow man.

 

Your choice to enlist in the military or accept a commission has to be your choice because it will affect your life from the day you enter “boot camp” until the day they fold and present the flag to your next of kin.

 

AIRMAN FIRST CLASS RANK_resizedA beautiful busty redhead United States Air Force buck sergeant once told an enthusiastic, gungho, flag-waving patriotic, energetic, Airman Warren, “Sam, you were born a civilian. The day will come when you take off the uniform and return to civilian Life.”

 

I grinned, “Not me.”

 

Time has proven we were both right.

 

I did retire from active duty and returned to civilian life – “Officially.”

THE GLOBE_resized

 

 

Global Family

 

I no longer put on the “blue suit” each day. I love to misplace my razor and go for days without shaving. Sometimes, I even take my time strolling into a barber shop for a hair cut.

 

Airman Warren was also right in his youthful arrogance and passion.

 

Staff Sergeant Warren did officially retire. Staff Sergeant Warren returned to “civilian life” and got accustomed to being called, “Mr. Warren,” or “Sam.”

 

But, after a career of military service, you never “truly” return to “civilian life” because you gain an international perspective of Life.

 

You realize Ramon Q. Saldana Jr., of Barangay Baras, Leyte, Republic of the Philippines works hard for his children and wants them to have a good life, while you know that Brenda Martin, of Abesville, Missouri, United States of America is still going to college and working at making her place in the world for a happy and successful life.

 

In the Family Of Humankind we are all related. A national policy of “Isolationism” is unrealistic – Thanks to World War II, which proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that no matter where you are in the world, War can find you.

 

Back in Missouri, I would hear friends remark, “American foreign aid is a dumb policy. We should keep that money here at home.” Money is like water; it has to move. When water stands in a hole, it stagnates and breeds mosquitoes, which carry disease.

 

The Message Of Money

 

When money stays in a bank and doesn’t move, it stagnates and breeds hostility among the citizens, who need the money for their businesses, pay their mortgages, car payments, buy groceries and pay their electric and water bills.

 

Eventually, Citizens get tired of reluctant banks and some citizens decide to carry guns to “liberate” the funds of banks and get the money moving.

 

I read an interview with a famous American bank robber and the interviewer asked, “Why do you rob banks ?”

 

That is where the money is,” replied the robber.

 

American foreign aid recognizes that money has to circulate to keep the world in business at home and abroad.

 

People or banks, who sit on money are only kidding themselves because everyone on the planet affects someone around them and an ocean or a mountain is no longer a permanent barrier,

 

Effective Economics

 

An economic crisis in China will affect Americans in the Ozarks. Before my wife and I sold Warren Land in Missouri, one of those walnut logs from Stone County, Missouri had been selected to be shipped to China to be manufactured into a table.

 

The Occupy Wall Street” and “The Arab Spring” movements are over . . .for now. People are no longer content to be peasants. People, now, expect a decent living wage, and an acceptable standard of living.

 

Thanks to facebook, tumblr,Twitter, Google, Yahoo, Word Press, Blogger, Flickr, Picasa and the Internet – the world is now a neighborhood.

 

Real time communication allows people around the world to check on friends and family wherever they are on the planet, so breaking news is now only seconds or minutes from reaching people.

 

Citizens Of The World

 

No longer is a person just a citizen of their barangay, county, parish,province,state,republic, country or nation. Now, every citizen truly is a Citizen Of The World.

 

Governments are aware that the citizens no longer expect to be treated like children, who are given candy and told to sit in the corner, while the world moves on.

 

International and national change is an element of life. Change is not always welcomed and sometimes, even governments are reluctant to accept change. Change is not always gradual or peaceful, sometimes change becomes violent and War erupts.

 

A person can choose to join and serve in the military or they can just hope that War will not happen in their lifetime and that they will not end up getting “drafted.”

 

Peace Is Unstable

 

For the record, Peace is unstable. Periods of peace on the world stage are few and far between.

 

Until the day comes when Israel’s Arab neighbors are no longer trying to destroy Israel, the idea of world peace will remain a childish fairy tale.

 

When you take the time to read the news and think about Life, you will realize that now you have to have an “international perspective” that goes beyond your city, state or nation.

 

The G.I., can “retire” or get the “honorable discharge”, but, you never truly return to civilian life because you have changed and now realize that you see and understand the world differently than the “civilians” around you.

 

In retirement, you maybe an “ordinary citizen” again, but, your choice to serve in the military changed your life. Whether you realize it or not; you now know what is truly important to you in your life. You know and understand your personal values.

 

The Choice

 

What makes a retired G.I., different that the citizen beside him or her ? The choice.

 

Joining the military is never about “getting a job”, “payment of college tuition”, “free medical or dental care,” or any of the other bogus justifications that we rationalize to our minds.

 

The decision, “to serve”, means that you hear a calling in your heart or mind that tells you: “This Is Who You Are ! ”

 

Heroic Heritage

 

Anyone can put on a uniform or Halloween costume and pretend to be in the military.

 

A veteran or retiree knows what it means to “wear the uniform” and “do what has to be done” to be worthy to wear that uniform and honor the memories of the legions of men and women who have worn a variation of that uniform down through the centuries.

 

A military veteran, a military retiree, a military reservist, and a military man or woman on active duty are simply citizens, who understand the importance of standing up for what you believe and having the courage to wear a uniform that proclaims I will go anywhere, anytime to defend my right and your right to live our lives as we see fit.

 

Citizenship In Action

 

Your decision to join your nation’s military always has to be your decision.

 

Whatever nation you live in and are a citizen of, then, the honor to serve your country is never a responsibility to be taken lightly. You represent your government, but, your heart and soul should always rest shoulder to shoulder with your fellow citizens. The government signs the paycheck, but, the citizens pay the taxes that allow the government to pay the troops on duty.

 

For what it is worth, if you do decide to enlist or accept a commission of military service, then, you have the admiration of one retired American sergeant. I salute you.

 

Welcome To The Immortal Legion !

 

 

Samuel

Word Warrior Warren

 

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Written by samwarren55

November 13, 2012 at 11:38 PM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Editorial, Family, Holidays, Opinion, Patriotism

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The Birthday Party

with 6 comments

Plan, Host, Entertain, Celebrate, Reminisce, Enjoy

 

The Birthday Party

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In preparation for the party, Christy Warren already has all the furniture moved to an arranged location on the porch. A tablecloth adds prestige to the rustic, rural coconut lumber dining table. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

by Samuel E. Warren Jr

The day of your birth is obviously the most important day of your life because that is the day your life begins. .

 

The average citizen calculates their year based on the current calendar from January 1 to December 31 each year.

 

Back in the 1980s,the United States Government determined their fiscal year would be from October 1 of one year until September 30 of the following year.

 

I have determined my calendar time-keeping system runs from October 30 of one year until October 30 of the following year. Therefore, my birthday is my yearly calendar.

 

The Most Important Day Of Your Life Each Year

 

My annual birthday anniversary each year is the most important day of my life each year. No one celebrates your birthday before you were born and it is unlikely anyone will celebrate your birthday, once you leave this life.

 

To celebrate your birthday, you need a party. Fortunately, in my life, I had a mother and I have a wife who understands the dynamics of planning and hosting a birthday party. I am a cake and ice cream person, which is all this 57-year-old man expected.

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The table settings combine the traditional American arrangement of the place settings of dishes with the daily arrangement of a Filipino table setting. The traditional large soup spoon and the fork, common daily silverware in a Filipino home, rests in the shallow soup bowl dishes.

 

The Pancit Canton in the plastic container is the Filipino food that symbolizes “Long Life” in the Filipino culture. Therefore, the noodles in the container are not cut during cooking. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Event Planning

 

Important, prestigious, social events demand professional planning and execution that is equal to, but, fortunately, not as crucial, as military operations. The success of any event begins months, weeks and days before “Zero Hour.”

 

Where the formal event – a party– is taking place in a boardroom on Wall Street or a diplomatic gathering at a building in a foreign nation’s capitol: the event has to be “right.” because it will be remembered and discussed for years to come.

 

Most people will not consider their birthday – a “Black Tie Affair At The White House.” I ain’t like most people. Daddy was a Texan. Momma had a sense of protocol that “There is a right way to do everything.”

 

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The dish, in the foreground, is barbeque pork sticks. The pork pieces are marinated for, at least, 24 hours and then placed on bamboo skewers to be roasted over an open grill fire.

 

The next dish is pork fried rice, Tiny pieces of pork, bell pepper, carrots, tomatoes and other vegetables are mixed into the white rice that is then fried.

 

The main dish is Pancit Canton. In the Philippines, there are two major type of pancit: Canton and Bihon. Bihon is the large, fat noodles. Pancit Canton is the extremely slender noodles that is cooked with a variety of vegetables.

 

The last dish is another plate of barbeque pork sticks. The pink plastic pitcher contains Pepsi Cola. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Southern Hospitality

Factor in my Texas aunts and uncles into my life and while I never refreshed with the mint julep, wearing my white suit and Panama Jack hat on the front porch of the plantation mansion – I still got the importance of Southern respect, hospitality, tradition and protocol.

 

Military Customs And Courtesies

 

Then, of course, Uncle Sam put me in numerous situation to work with and alongside protocol officers and sergeants and the diplomatic formal significance of events finally modified my DNA. “An event is always intended to be an Event. It is a moment of time that is intended to be remembered for years and, one would hope generations.”

 

Diplomatic Protocol

 

You do not have to be “The Ambassador Of The United States Of America” to a foreign country to host a memorable event. A birthday party should always be a memorable event because all of us only get so many. . .actually, so few, birthdays in our lifetime. Each birthday should be memorable.

 

If you really want to get formal with an event, then, you come up with a guest list and make sure the invitations go out in plenty of time for people to put the event on their personal business or social calendar. Naturally, you would either rely on your “Official” protocol people or hire a professional party planner.

 

In difficult economic times, you learn to do your homework and develop a to do list of tasks to be accomplished. Fortunately, for me, I married my “professional party planner”, who got exposed to military and diplomatic functions in the United States and overseas. Then, of course, my mother, Opal M. DeLong Warren took great pride in briefing Christy on Warren and DeLong Family Traditions.

 

Know Your Surroundings

 

Christy understand the salad fork, lobster fork, soup spoon place settings and napkin ring holders for table settings. While she didn’t have an elegant American dining room to set the party up in, she knew the surroundings for the party location and knew hat had to be done.

 

Flexibility is a military reality and a common sense civilian virtue that always seems to get overlooked in planning.

 

In the United States, Christy had a gas stove, oven and air conditioning to be able to prepare a variety of dishes. She had the silver chaffing dishes with the sterno cans underneath to keep the food warm and she set the table to allow for buffet style birthday parties.

 

In the Republic of the Philippines, she had a two burner hot plate hooked to an RV sized hot plate, a wooden table serves as the kitchen island. She has some large pots and pans to cook in. A curved rebar rod on two small concrete blocks set beside the house will provide the makeshift camping stove that Leneil Saldana usually uses with coconut shell briquets to provide an extra cooking stove for an additional dish like pork sticks.

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Leneil Saldana

Coconut Shell Briquets

 

In the United States, portable barbeque grills using charcoal briquets and lighter fluid provide the fire for outdoor cooking. In the Philippines, the plentiful coconut shell gets busted up and set on fire. Like charcoal briquets, the coconut shells seem to burn evenly and slowly for a consistent fire and heat for cooking.

 

Temperature is a persistent and, sometimes uncomfortable, reality in the Philippines. The kitchen area is currently “too” open to allow an air conditioner to work in the kitchen area. October’s frequent monsoon rains provides a change in the humidity that makes it easier to cook that in August when the sun reigns supreme over the landscape.

 

Christy Warren always exceeds expectations, regardless of the conditions; which is the mark of a true “party planner.”

 

Fate’s Flexibility Factors

 

Fate loves to dabble in event plans, which is why, it is always crucial to remember – Keep The Plans Flexible. Fate is that mysterious entity always luring in the shadows waiting for the right moment to throw a wrench into your plans.

 

The Battle Of Leyte Gulf Anniversary Week and Tropical Storm Ofel were events that made the event a touch and go operation going down to the wire.

 

I had spent the week researching and writing articles on the 68th Anniversary Of The Battle Of Leyte Gulf because the dates of battles for “Freedom” rank right up there with birthdays in my world view.

 

Then, Tropical Storm Ofel decided to complicate matters by using high winds to knock out the power for six days. When the lights did come back on briefly for about 20 minutes on October 28; a transformer blew and darkness returned. When the power did finally come back on on October 29, I dashed to the laptop and began editing photos and polishing the copy for an article for my blog.

 

The sun rose on October 30, 2012 and once I saw that my Sam I Am Blog article was published. I could finally get a good night’s sleep. At around 8 a.m., I decided to get some sleep. “Happy Birthday to me.”

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Christy Warren – Party Planner

Christy The Birthday Party Planner

 

Meanwhile, Christy already had her own plans underway, My wife is a Leo, a Fixed Sign. Fixed Sign Zodiac people have their own way of doing things.

 

Leo is the one sign of the Zodiac that is “Born To The Spotlight.” More actors, kings, queens,princes, and princesses are born under the sign of Leo than any other Zodiac sign. In my experience, if a Leo is your party planner, you may as well take a “nap” because they have the situation handled from the git go.

 

While I slept, Christy went to the local market and bought the fresh vegetables for the dishes to be cooked. She directed the kids on where to move furniture and prepared the meal. When I awoke in the afternoon, after my Rip Van Winkle nap, the only task that remained for the party planner and our nephews was to set the table.

 

Ranilo and Rayniel Saldana, my nephews, took their own initiative, and allowances, to select the chocolate cake, icing and the decorations to go on the birthday cake.

 

I heard Christy tell the kids the birthday party was “semi-formal”, which meant T-shirts, walking shorts and sandals were the attire for the Philippines’ afternoon heat and the dining area on the porch.

 

The tablecloth hid the rustic dining table’s humble rural coconut lumber origin. The plastic light green chairs replaced the usual wooden bench seating that goes with the table. The plates and the silverware setting were what you would expect for a traditional birthday party table.

 

Birthday Party Cuisine

 

The menu consisted of barbeque pork sticks, pork fried rice and, of course, pancit canton. In the Philippines, pancit canton is long, skinny noodles cooked with slices of carrots and other vegetables.

 

Pancit Canton is the food served to symbolize “long life,” so the noodles aren’t cut and you have a food that has those lengthy spaghetti style noodles that you either wrap around a fork or lift high up to get in your plate.

 

A couple of plastic pitchers filled with Pepsi Cola for the kids and, of course, coffee for Sam. While everyone ate and talked, I looked around the table at the faces and smiled because I thought of family and friends back in the United States.

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Family And Friends Faraway On a family outing to the beach, earlier this year, I shot the photo of these local fishing boats on the shore. The number of fishing boats on the beach are symbolic of a family. The Pacific Ocean in the photograph is a reminder of family and friends faraway.

Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Family and Friends Faraway

 

I thought of Cousin Donna and wondered if she would be going to play the slot machines in the casinos anytime soon and wished that we could check out the casino that I spotted on Clark Air Base.

 

I wondered if Ken Sexton is still working with the local Vietnam Veterans’ group and performing color guard functions for military funerals and at public events.

 

I imagined Wade Martin is still driving a Galena school bus and would be amazed to see that farming in the Philippines is a lot like farming in the United States. I was surprised earlier in the week, to stroll along and notice a Jersey heifer munching on the tall grass in a nearby barangay.

 

Nancy Campbell, a close friend of mine and my wife, Christy, had left Missouri and moved back to a small town in Texas. Every time I see a motorcycle in the Philippines, I am reminded of Nancy – there are a lot of motorcycles in the Philippines.

 

Nancy is one of those people you meet in life and would never imagine her “headin’ out on the highway . . . on a Harley.” But, Nancy said that in her 20s, she enjoyed the wind through her hair and the feel of the open road stretching out across the horizon.

 

It is nice to image, Nancy,in her Harley leathers riding along the open highway flashing past those square black signs with the proud white Lone Star State crest brandishing the highway numbers.

 

I wondered if T. Michael Ottens still lived in Elkins, West Virginia. We were classmates back at School Of The Ozarks, back in the days before computers, the Internet, facebook, twitter and cell phones. We didn’t have to use stone hammers and chisels to do our homework, but, typewriters, like their children the computer – weren’t always cooperative.

 

United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Jake Slusher, my “runnin’ buddy” back at Kadena Air Base Okinawa probably is a grandfather by now living somewhere in the United States. . .or possibly, in the Philippines.

 

United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Bobby Thomas, a “runnin’ buddy” and fellow Air Force newspaperman was putting down roots somewhere in Japan, years ago, when I caught the “Freedom Bird” out of Okinawa.

 

J.R. Baker, was my roommate, back in my Bossier City, Louisiana, days. I saw J.R.. years ago. and he had went into the United States Army and went up in rank. I would be surprised if J.R., did not retire as a United States Army command sergeant major because he always understood, “The System.”

 

Greg Pyron, my friend and classmate at School Of The Ozarks, I learned had become a grandfather. Greg always had the award-winning smile and his code of personal appearance each day, looked as though he litterally stepped out of the pages of “GQ” magazine. He became the living embodiment of “The Classic American FM Voice.”

 

Greg had the soft, distinct voice that merged with the air in a room full of girls and women. Greg would speak and you would see a change come over the women in the room. A twinkle would appear in their eyes and the emerging smile on their lips confirmed a flight of fantasy had begun in their minds along the lines of Harlequin Romance novels.

 

In college, at radio station KSOZ-FM, Greg helped me overcome my fear of “The Open Mike” and taught me ways to relax behind the microphone.

 

Michael Roy Truly Rogers, my contemporary hero and classmate at School Of The Ozarks, had a dream to work at radio station WLS-AM Chicago. I heard that Mike’s dream came true. Mike, a handsome man, took the 1970’s James Dean Rebel Approach to life.

James Dean, the young Hollywood actor, became “The Immortal American Teenage Rebel Symbol Of The 1950s. Mike Rogers’ approach to life took the basic “rebel” idea and slipped on the contemporary 1970s wardrobe. He usually wore T-shirts and denim jeans cut-offs. He had a distinct deep voice that had almost a James Earl Jones quality, with the Wolfman Jack energy.

 

In a room full of girls and women, Mike would smile,speak and the women be “mesmerized” into a Count Dracula state of hypnosis.

 

Little girls would bounce up and down like they were on pogo sticks, teenage girls would swoon, middle age women would have a motel smirk curl the smile of their lips and senior citizen “granny” women would smile.

 

The transition of “granny” age women happened in the eyes. You could watch them blink away the years, and the innuendo smile on their faces would suggest their minds were “rewriting” a fantasy that had Mike as one of their beaus, center stage, in their past.

 

The Ladies Men” – Mike and Greg

 

I always admired Mike and Greg because their “Radio Disc Jockey Voices” seem to give them an almost uncanny power “over” women or the audio quality to get through to women at any level, virtually any time they seemed to wish it. They had made “Star Trek’s Mr. Spock Mind Meld Technique”as easy and natural as breathing and it seemed “every woman on planet Earth was powerless against the suave, debonair voices of Mike and Greg each with their distinct traits.”

 

Mike always seemed more aloof and not as easy to become friends with as Greg. Mike was only about a year older than me, but, I looked up to him like he was a respected, revered, wise, sage elder. And, Mike also helped me to become relaxed behind the microphone and proficient, even skilled, at operating the controls of a radio station in the control room. At KSOZ-FM, we classified Mike as the living, breathing, embodiment of “The Classic AM American Rock Disc Jockey Voice.”

 

I like to imagine that Mike is still working as “an AM Rock Jock” and teaching legions of future broadcaster how to pull off a contemporary Wolfman Jack voice with such class and style that listeners tune in every morning to get the Walter Cronkite credibility and the adrenaline voltage to take them from their morning coffee and newspaper straight to the boardroom to close million dollar deals without batting an eye or breaking a sweat.

 

The Birthday Party Guests

 

My family and friends in the United States, weren’t seated around the table for the “birthday party”, but, the fact that they were in my mind ,reminded me, that I was grateful of the roles each of these people had played in my life and to me – it meant they were at the birthday party.

 

I looked around the table at Edwin Mora, Christy’s cousin and a local hog farmer, who smiled at his wife Babysel, who leans back in the chair to accommodate her prominent pregnant stomach. “The Babysel Watch” began October 26 and the “bouncing bundle of joy” is apparently taking his or her time to get their itinerary in order.

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Rachel Mora, smiles at me and drops down out of the chair to check on her little brother, Randolf Mora, Leneil Saldana passes her husband, Ramon, Christy’s brother, the platter of pork sticks. Ranilo Saldana concentrates on the pork fried rice on the plate, in front of him.

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Rafael Saldana,Christy’s brother and a coconut farmer, adds some more pancit canton to his plate. Nieces Vanissa Saldana and Junea Tanahale had errands to run with Virgie and Esmeralda, their mothers, so they were not at the party.

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Christy waves to her Aunt Pising walking by and she turns around and walks into the birthday party. Mano Bito, a local rice farmer, strolls into the party. Everyone is talking in Tagalog and Waray and I am truly enjoying Christy’s pork fried rice and “finger lickin’ good barbeque pork sticks”. Young Rayniel Saldana looks at the birthday cake and at me – I get the message.

 

Five-Star Birthday Party

 

Rayniel’s big eyes looking at me brought me out of my mind and back into The Real World.

 

English ?

 

Tagalog ?

 

Waray ?

 

Language is not necessary, when the cake remains to be cut and the containers of cold ice cream are placed on the table.

 

One nice thing about being a cigarette smoker, your lighter to light the candles is always in your pocket and ready to use. I lit the candle and made my wish. I blew out the candles on the first try. The cake and ice cream went around the table to the smiling hungry faces of the children.

 

Once again, Christy had planned, prepared,and hosted a five-star birthday party that became a successful reality. She created delicious dishes and provided the relaxed atmosphere for conversation and reflection that is needed for any event or party to be memorable.

Philippines’ Ponder Points

 

It has been less than a year,since we returned to the Philippines. Life has proven that you are never too old to learn. Your expectations overall don’t always work out the way you think they will – that is a “life lesson” that I seem to get reminded of each year.

 

My After Action Report for 2012

 

One of Uncle Sam’s requirements I have held on to. After important events, the United States Government always takes the time to reflect and collect data on an event to see if it achieved the goals.

 

If the event is an annual event, then, what needs to be done next year to make sure the event Is a success. Watch your Hollywood movies and the actors playing government officials, diplomats, generals and admirals are always talking about their “Sitreps” – situation reports – and their “After Action Report.”

 

I sat at the table, lit a cigarette, sipped my coffee and thought about “My After Action Report” for the current year.

 

Overall, though, when I stop to remember the day we arrived at the airport in Manila and looked at where we stood on October 30, 2012, like they say, in the old commercials, “You’ve Come Along Way, Baby.”

CHRISTY AND VANISSA_6205_resized

  Christy Warren, and our niece, Vanissa Saldana stroll, in front of< Robinson’s Place in Tacloban City to go “shopping.” Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

  NIKON D 100 Photo 0010_by Samuel E Warren Jr  Junea Tanahale, our niece, makes a flower arrangement. “Aunt” Christy Warren, one summer morning, instructed Junea and Vanissa Saldana on the way to do the formal place settings on a table and instructed them on making flower arrangements. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

Christy and I have learned a lot in less than a year. There are obvious similarities between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States and there are some significant differences between both countries, even if you lived in a rural area of the USA.

 

I could look around the table at the faces and remember moments from earlier in the year when we bought the refrigerator, but it was only delivered to the side of the road because the yard was too soft for the truck to take it all the way, so family members carried it to the house.

 

Life’s On The Job Training

 

Ramon, my brother-in-law has always been more like a son to me. When I was a young G.I., Ramon lived with Christy and I,in Angeles City, near Clark Air Base, and went to school.

 

Now, Ramon is a man with a family of his own. A mechanic, Ramon has become a self-taught carpenter. He built a wall-mounted shrine for the living room. Then, he used bamboo and concrete and built an impressive hog house..

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HOG HOUSE

in this photograph the second pen of the house house is still under construction. The first pen already had two hogs rooting around the pen. Ramon Q. Saldana Jr., built this hog house. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

SARI SARI STORE BUILT BY RAMON

SARI SARI STORE built by Ramon Q. Saldana Jr.

Ramon is a self-taught carpenter. He built a hog house and, then, built a Sari-Sari Store in Barangay Baras. In this photo, Ramon and a visitor sit in front of the small store. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

We had been fortunate to go to the beach and go swimming a couple of times this year. We had all survived. My Canon EOS 40 D camera didn’t. An accidental dip of about 30 seconds in a big wave must have been too much for the onboard sensors. Fortunately, I had a Nikon on standby.

 

Division Downsizing

 

A US Army-sized division of distant relatives had greeted us at the airport in Manila and a battalion of distant relatives had escorted us to Leyte. As the fiscal budget year wore on , Christy and I didn’t always sign off on proposals like the Manila based 10-wheeler cargo trucking line to Leyte.

 

The companies of disgruntled, distant relative began their own “downsizing” and “redeployment” back to the island of Luzon and the municipalities of Angeles City and Manila.

 

Warren-building

 

While the United States Government, Iraq and Afghanistan continue their “Nation-building” of governments, infrastructure nad cultures, Christy and I have been involved in Warren-building on the island of Leyte. I have concentrated on my photography and writing articles for my blog. Christy has concentrated on the renovations to turn One Warren Way from an unused rice mill building into a home.

 

Christy got her dream of the CSW Cafe in Tacloban City. Eight kids began the school year at One Warren Way, Four kids went “Republican” and exercised an “Exit strategy” to “retired” to somewhere else on the island of Leyte.

 

All in all, it has been an exciting year of challenges, successes and a couple of disappointments. Christmas is beyond Halloween, so that future operation is under Christy’s chain of command.

 

My significant shortfall, this year, is that I didn’t plan far enough ahead for the kids to have a “Halloween Party.” I had hoped they and their friends would be able to have the Halloween costume party at the house. The Halloween custom seems to be catching on in Manila, but, has, yet, to make it to rural Leyte.

 

My Holiday Is Halloween

 

Halloween is “my holiday” and is the other day of the year I look forward to each year. I have my mother to “Thank” for the Halloween Party memories.

 

As a small boy in rural southwest Missouri in the 1960s, “birthday parties” were an uncommon idea. There were no McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Taco Bell, or any other fast food restaurants to offer birthday party plans in nearby Branson, Missouri in 1960. Silver Dollar City had just recently opened their gates and the old white clapboard Abesville grade school stood across the gravel road from the brick school house.

 

The old Abesville Grade Schoolhouse was the classic small white schoolhouse with the steeple and red roof that you see in the Hollywood movies; it had retired as a schoolhouse and had become the meeting place for the Abesville 4-H Club.

 

Halloween And Birthday Party Tradition

 

Beginning in the first grade, my mother, Opal M. DeLong Warren set a precedent: my birthday party.

 

Kids in rural southwest Missouri really didn’t have birthday parties in the fall and winter months. Your classmates didn’t live blocks away; they usually lived miles away.

 

School District Logistics

 

The Galena RII School District would have kids who lived a few steps from the Reeds Spriing school district get on the yellow bus to made the arduous commute to Abesville Grade School or Galena High School each morning.

 

Meanwhile, kids in Wheelerville, Cross Roads, and Jenkins would watch the yellow school buses of the Crane School district pass by their farms, while they waited patiently for their Galena school bus.

 

Thus, Galena school students from, near Reeds Springs, and from near Wheelerville, Cross Roads and Jenkins, were like American G.I.s because each morning they had to “deploy” for the long bus ride to and from Abesville or Galena

 

The students might spend about two hours on the bus each morning before they ever arrived at school and then two hours each night before they ever reached home. The School District Logistics Of Travel each morning and evening worked against the childhood opportunities to attend a birthday party.

 

Weird Weather

 

The fall weather, in October, was always as uncertain as the promises of a politician; the weather changes quickly in southwest Missouri in autumn.

 

The weather for Halloween in southwest Missouri is usually like a Wes Craven or John Carpenter horror movie where the London fog meets the Seattle rain. Some years, the skeletal bone-chilling cold would sink through your coat and speed your steps The tips of your nose would tingle in the cold. You could feel the sting of the biting cold bite into your ears, The weird weather of Halloween seemed to exercise demonic persecution of children, who just wanted to get a few pieces of candy.

 

It seldom snowed on Halloween, in my childhood, but, the dismal, eerie, cold. Damp, depressing feel of the weather always kept children close to home. If you were lucky, your parents might drive you to Galena, so you could go “Trick Or Treat” at a few homes.

 

By the 1980s, officials at the Stone County Courthouse had arranged a Halloween Party to allow the kids to “Trick Or Treat” in a more fun and less “survival expert” way to celebrate Halloween.

 

Momma’s Miracle – My Birthday Party

 

In the 1960s, in southwest Missouri, the idea of autumn and winter birthday parties and Halloween Parties were as vague as the dream of the Internet.

 

My mother talked to Mrs. Russell, my first grade teacher, My birthday party and the class Halloween celebration became an annual event that continued each year for seven years; right up until my classmates and I entered the eighth grade at Galena High School.

 

Momma would bring the big vanilla sheet cake that always had my “Happy Birthday” greeting and “Happy Halloween” lettered in icing on the cake. The Kool-Aid with the cake gave me the reason to look forward to my birthday and the other kids commented that when they saw the cake they knew it was time for Halloween.

 

At 57, I can look back on a successful birthday party, remember the fun parties of childhood, and make a note to plan for the nephews a Halloween Party for next year. Then, again, I think I know a party planner up to the challenge of hosting a Halloween party: “Christy, honey, what do you say, for next year, we plan,for the kids, a Halloween Party?”

 

Christy ?”

THE CAKE_Happy 57th Birthday Samuel E Warren Jr Nikon D 100 Photo by Sanuel E Warren Jr 029 - Copy

The Birthday Cake

Sam

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

November 4, 2012 at 5:41 AM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Current Events, Editorial, Family, Holidays, Leyte, Observances, Opinion, Philippines, Photos, Stone County History

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“The Exorcist” October Creature Feature

with 12 comments

OCTOBER CREATURE FEATURE

 

THE EXORCIST

 

The film that transformed an obscure Church ritual into a sought after global profession

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by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

In my lifetime from October 1955 through mid-December 1973,in the United States, if you needed an “Exorcist”, you would have few real options.

 

You could buy a plane ticket to go to the Vatican and try to convince a priest or the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy.

 

You could try and find someone who knew a root worker or conjurer in New Orleans, Louisiana, who might be willing to help you.

 

You could try and contact someone who had a friend, who lived out in San Francisco, California and was into “The New Age Movement.”

 

If you seriously needed an “Exorcist” before 1973, in the United States, you really had to look under every stone to find one and hope you could find someone who had an understanding priest in the Roman Catholic Church, who would take you seriously enough to actually look for an “exorcist.”

 

The Real Deal Exorcists

 

William Peter Blatty’s 1971 novel, “The Exorcist,” had aspects that were inspired by the actual Exorcism of Roland Doe in Maryland in 1949. Jesuit Priest, Father William S. Bowdern and Father Walter Halloran were the real exorcists.

 

There have been television shows that talked about the original exorcism and one fact all seemed to agree on is the family basically had to beg the church for an exorcism. The practice of exorcisms had become essentially a ritual that had been left in the past.

 

The “resurrected” ritual of exorcism did much not only for The Church, but for all churches. William Friedkin’s film, “The Exorcist” based on Blatty’s novel put God back up on the marquee that got people going back to all kinds of churches, temples, synagogues and mosque because Satan was real again.

 

Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Omen” were child demonic films of the late 1960s and early 1970s that also got people’s attention.

 

What always got me about “The Exorcist” was how such a “normal” little girl could be possessed ?

 

Effective Evil Effects

 

There were no Hollywood Computer Generated Images for movies in the 1970s, production and special effects people had to do create the effects the old fashioned way ‘– “They had to be creative.” Now, people smile at the “pea soup” that gets shot out of Regan’s mouth in the movie, but, it was one of those “Wow” moments in theaters in the 1970s.

 

The fashion sense, or lack there of, of the 1970s does much to make a film look dated, but, the story, the actors, actresses and effects did such a magnificent job Regan MacNeil, the possessed girl, is one of those Halloween characters in the shadow between vampires, mummies, Frankenstein and zombies that no one wants to think about because she just might be “The Real Deal after all.”

 

Face it, no one wants to have to tell their father or mother, “We won’t be coming home for Christmas because your granddaughter is possessed by Satan.”

 

The real fear of The Exorcist movie is that maybe, just maybe, your child could be possessed by Evil. The movie really does turn that parental fear into the worst case scenario by the use of suspense and the creative use of effects. It is little wonder why this movie has become an American Cult Classic.

 

You factor in the notion that you have a veteran priest, who has dealt with and faced Evil at various times and is ready for the battle. Then, you add the young doubting priest to the mix, who believes he is more “a man of science” than “a man of the cloth.” Basically, he let the Church pay for his education, so he could become a successful psychiatrist. Stepping into the ring, Satan has the upper hand and the odds are all in His favor.

 

Temptation Of Teenagers ?

 

Ellen Burstyn, who plays the actress mother, wants the best for her daughter. Linda Blair, who plays Regan Mac Neil, the daughter, is the average All-American Girl for the 1970s.

 

I grew up on a hog farm in the conservative Midwest of the United States of America, known as the Ozarks, right smack dab in “The Bible Belt.” My family, friends and neighbors went to the Baptists and Pentecostal churches. Some crossed the line into Taney County to go to Branson or into Greene County to go to Catholic churches, Lutheran, Methodists and Presbyterians.

 

The preachers and pastors of Stone County, Missouri took their “hellfire and damnation” lessons to heart and knew they were the First Line Of Defense against Satan and His Demonic Legions.

 

Thus, in the Ozarks and the Midwest, you never expected to see Satan walking down the highway or shopping for groceries in the local supermarket. But, in the 1960s or 1970s, if you are writing a story, script or play – how would you get Satan or any of his demons to realistically appear in the literary work ?

 

Demon Dare

 

As decadent and liberal minded as New York City was suppose to be in the 1960s and 1970s; there had to be a way to get Evil into the script and the movie. The All-American Fall Guy – the Ouija Board.

 

In the US, in the 1960s and 1970s, it seemed there were only two real ways for Evil to show up. Teenagers had to figure out some way to do “Satanic Rituals” or go to the store and pretend to be nave enough to buy and use a Ouija Board.

 

In this film, the Ouija Board is the culprit that is “The Three Mile Island” incident that starts demonic radiation leaking into the MacNeil home and poor Regan glows with it.

 

Use of the Ouija Board, helps explain how an East African demon gets through US Customs without a passport and visa. Then, again The Department Of Homeland Security is a story that doesn’t happen until the beginning of the 21st Century.

 

Max von Sydow, who stars in the role of Father Lankester Merrin really does come across as the devout veteran priest, who is ready to stare the demon in the eye and send it back to Hell.

 

Jason Miller as Father Damien Karras does an excellent job as the young priest, who really believes he is a long lost psychiatrist in his soul. One of the story twist is suppose to have the young priest broken up about his mother’s death. I didn’t get the message in 1973 and I haven’t gotten it since.

 

On screen the first time you see the aging, invalid mother, the film mom is sort of already a citizen of “The Twilight Zone” looking to move into “The Outer Limits.” Without more details or a back story to show the mother and son relationship, that story line to me wastes film. I’m a Momma’s Boy, so I’m critical.

 

Actor Titos Vandis, in the role of the young priest’s uncle works with Miller to pull off the story line, but, that is an area where I believe the movie falters and probably gets forgotten about in the overall bouts with the demon. In this movie, the mom character was dead before she was written into the script and she seems just as dead up on the screen.

 

Exorcist Era Excitement

 

This is the movie that “Really Did Start It All.” The obscure term, “exorcist” smoldering in the Vatican archives, “purified” the way for an American religious revival in Catholic and Protestant Churches and created battalions of televangelists and legions of lay (and lame) exorcists throughout the globe.

 

Satanic Seventies ?

 

The ongoing, relentless, never-ending Vietnam War had made young Americans jaded, cynical and skeptical. Grandparents and parents looked at the grandchildren and children and wondered if maybe “alien astronauts” had abducted” and switched their kids because “The Generation Gap” was the real deal.

 

Generations of Americans spoke English to one another in their homes and yet the message was like “A Day At The United Nations Without Translators “ – No one understood ‘nuthin’.

 

America’s politicians in the 1960s were the kind of leaders that people rushed to build statues to. By the 1970s, Americans politicians seemed to be like “used car dealers that you couldn’t get rid of.”

 

The Godfathers

 

America had the traditional movie and sports celebrities of their generation in the early 1970s, but, the “Godfather” movies did “the kinder, gentler dance” for Organized Crime. J. Edgar Hoover had gotten long in the tooth and the organized crime bosses of America had their own brash, public style that had to be the envy of America’s “stale bread politicians of the early 1970s.”

 

While American underworld figures weren’t holding their daily press conferences at their mansions, they were out and about and people couldn’t get enough of their exploits in the streets of America. The irony is the Crime Rate in America was pushing people to believe “Vigilante Justice” might not be such a bad solution as long as you don’t get caught. “Dirty Harry” had become the ideal lawman of America.

 

Nix on Nixon

 

Nixon had no use for the American news media and the American news media had no use for Nixon, other than the political cartoonists, who thrived on daily demonizing his facial features.

 

After Watergate, nothing Nixon said really mattered. The press didn’t seem to believe a word he said and his approval rating with the American public dropped faster than a bad day in the stock market.

 

 

 

Then, of course, Men in America actually got to wear something other than white shirts and black ties. Unfortunately, the Men’s Fashion Scene of the 1970s “overdosed” America’s fashion sense – too much, too soon. Wide ties, wide lapels, bright colors for men’s suits, white belts, white shoes, hounds tooth sport coats thrown into the mix with polyester and wide collars on mien’s shirts. Plus, there was the jogging suits to wear, even if you never intended to go jogging. And denim flared jeans and denim flared bell bottoms were still on the drawing board for the seventies fashion scene.

 

The early 1970s had America’s scurrying like mice on an exercise wheel – they just weren’t sure where they were suppose to be running to.

 

Demonic Days

 

If you look back at 1973, you wonder if someone on Satan’s staff had decided to literally “set the stage” leading up to the release of “The Exorcist.”

 

January 22, 1973 – US Supreme Court rules on Roe versus Wade and overturns states’ bans on abortion.

 

The Vietnam War “Officially Ends” January 27, 1973 with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. Nixon tries to take credit for the peace agreement. The American news media and many Americans actually see Dr. Henry Kissinger, America’s First Jewish Secretary Of State as the man who got the deal.

 

November 5, 1973, the term, “Shuttle Diplomacy” entered the American culture and described the efforts that Secretary of State Kissinger made in the Middle East at the end of the Yom Kippur War to help keep the region stable.

 

Despite Secretary Kissinger’s hard work to keep the Arab states and Israel living in a somewhat peaceful existence – some religious critics started shouting that Secretary Kissinger could be, “The Anti-Christ.”

 

March 29, 1973, the last United States soldier leaves Vietnam.

 

May 17, 1973, I wear the cap and gown and graduate from Galena High School, Galena, Missouri. It should have been a proud moment for God and Satan. It was a proud moment for me. By June, I was in college at the School Of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, Missouri.,

 

The US bombing of Cambodia ends June 1.

 

July 12, 1973 – The National Archives Fire – The entire 6th floor of the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis Missouri is destroyed by a fire. Countless US Navy and US Army records are lost, which will affect World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War military people and their families for generations to come in the area of honorable discharges, military retirement pay and documentation of earned and awarded military decorations.

 

Egyptian and Syrian military forces attack Israel, September 11, 1973, to start the “Yom Kippur War,” in the Sinai Pennisula and the Golan Heights. I am working at KSOZ-FM, to work my way through college. I look through the large plastic window at the huge gray Associated Press teletype thrusting down the keys to announce the start of the War. I’m excited about the story.

 

I rip off the yellow sheet of news copy and hand it to someone in the newsroom. They nod and comment, “Another War in the Middle East.”

 

I understand now, why no one rushed to get it “on air” as breaking news. It was the 1970s, and there was always bad news coming out of the Middle East.

 

I saw the War as a possible start to “Armageddon.” Everyone else in the newsroom just saw it as more bad news from the Middle East to be read after the day’s latest Watergate story.

 

The Yom Kippur War ends October 26, 1973.

 

October 10, 1973, “The Saturday Night Massacre,” Richard Milhouse “Tricky Dick” Nixon fires Special Watergate Prosecutor Archibald Cox and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus.

 

No matter What Nixon did – The Watergate Break-In June 17, 1972 – would not go away and each day’s newspaper brought a new “Watergate” headline in the continuing scandal.

By December 23, 1973, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, had doubled the price of crude oil at the pumps – just in time for “Christmas.”

 

American theaters flip the switch and Warner Brothers “The Exorcist “ flickers on to movie screens December 26, 1973.

 

By November 1979, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini labeled “America, The Great Satan: in a speech. Khomeini was the 1970s version of Al Quaeda’s Osama bin Laden.

 

In the early 1960s, Khomeini used his criticism of the Shah of Iran Pahlavi to rise to power among his Muslim followers. The Shah exiled him and he spent more than 14 years in exile between Paris, Turkey and Iraq. Khomeini did not like that the United States Government had close relations with Iran and that the Shah had moved to modernize Iran.

 

When you look back at 1973, it seems like God had gotten dropped off for church bingo and Americans weren’t sure if they were going to pick Him up or hand Him His “Pink Slip.”

 

Satan At The Box Office

 

The film brought in $66.3 million from theaters in the United States and Canada. It currently stands as “The Top Grossing R Rated Film Of All Time.”

 

The Exorcist” movie proved to be the “shakeup” that got God back in His penthouse and kept Him on as the CEO Of Heaven. “The Exorcist” woke up and scared Americans.

 

Before the movie appeared in theaters, many Americans were like Actor Lee J. Cobb in the role of New York City Police Department Detective Lieutenant William F. Kinderman, something is wrong and you just can’t put your finger on it.

 

The approach worked for Cobb’s detective’s role in the movie and outside the theater in the streets of America, “something was wrong and no one knew how to put a finger on it.”

 

The Medical Men

 

Arthur Storch, in the role of the psychiatrist and Barton Haymen as Dr. Samuel Klein are the classic American “Medical Men” of the 1970s, “Of course, Science has an answer for it.” But, when Regan’s condition doesn’t respond to medical treatment, one of the doctors blurts out something about an “exorcist.”

The time devoted to the “Science” and “Medicine”approach in the movie is smart because by the 1970s doctors and scientists had taken to their academic pulpits and “preached” to anyone who would listen that science and medicine would find the cure for all the ills of humanity.

America’s New Prophets

America’s Psychiatrist were on a roll. Sigmund Freud had got them out into the limelight. People seemed hungry for the latest development from the psychiatric world. Hollywood didn’t let the fad pass by; they cranked out movies as fast as they could about doctors and psychiatrist saving the day.

Psychiatrists were America’s New Prophets. It did seem doctors, scientists and psychiatrist had an answer for everything.

The Supernatural” remained the chink in the psychiatrist’s armor. The responses of : “superstition”, “imagination”, and “all in your mind” worked until something happened before your eyes.

Find An Exorcist In The Yellow Pages

Before the movie, your best bet to find an “exorcist” would be to seek permission to search the Vatican archives for a vague reference to an “exorcist.”

After the movie, “Exorcists In America were thicker than hairs on a dog’s back.” At the current rate of growth in a few years America will probably be turning out as many exorcists as we do lawyers and doctors.

No doubt, none of the televangelists of the 1970s and 1980s will ever give “The Exorcist,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Omen,” or any of the other religious horror TV or movie spin-offs an honorable mention, but without “The Hounding Hell Horror Of The Satanic Silver Screen,” some of those preachers would of stayed on cable TV and still be going through the Ozarks trying to arrange “Brush Arbor Revivals” and church pie suppers.

A 21st Century Exorcist ?

Hollywood is silly if they don’t already have plans to do an updated version to compliment, but not compete with the original movie.

A new version could not compete because Linda Blair’s Regan MacNeil character had her unique unspoken, “I’m not going away. . .ever” look, near the end of the movie.

The silly 1970s wardrobe makes “The Exorcist” dated, but, hey, even in the 1970s, “We had to wear clothes.”

Casting Directors – Stellan Skarsgard has earned the right to be Father Merrin in an updated version. In Dominion: Prequel To The Exorcist,” Mr. Skarsgard became the role. In “Exorcist:The Beginning”, he became Father Lankester Merrin, Roman Catholic Archaeologist Priest.

Now, if the Department of Motor Vehicles could just get Mr. Skarsgard ‘s name on his new license right and the Vatican would quit sending him offers for another exorcism overseas.

Darling Demonologists”

In another more contemporary version, it would be nice if the screenwriter could write in a way to bring in a senior ranking demon with more established credentials in religious history, which would allow for even more suspense, special effects and (probably) a bigger budget.

And, since the “Name Of The Game Is Horror”, a senior ranking demon could up the on screen body count to stress the possibility that today’s dog walker shouldn’t count on being tomorrow’s “Darling Demonologist.”

Exorcist 2013 Script Session

Quick, get Warner Brothers on the phone. I’ve got it.

Camera Fade In: Regan’s granddaughter graduates from Oxford and returns to the US to visit “granny.” They are doing the girl, “shoot the breeze” conversation routine. Suddenly, Regan’s youngest granddaughter comes up out of the basement with something in her hands.

You guessed it, America!

Sometimes the old literary devices are the best. All together now, “Ouija Board !”

They chuckle. Of course, granny has had a wonderful life and completely forgot about the initial possession (and probably The Exorcist” spin-off movies after the original).

They open the box, take out the board and begin to play.

Too late “Granny” remembers.

The granddaughter is now “possessed.”

Granny whips out her cell phone hoping that she still has an exorcist priest on speed dial.

The granddaughter does her contortions routine, while the youngest granddaughter jumps up and down screaming.

From here on out. . .it is up to the Hollywood screen writers. You guys and gals run with it. But, go for a demon, who usually gets top billing, with “name recognition.”

800px-Petersdom_von_Engelsburg_gesehen_AB

St. Peter’s Basilica from Castel Sant’Angelo showing the dome rising behind Maderno’s facade. Public Domain Photograph

 

Exorcists Resurrection

The Vatican is now admitting, “Exorcists exist” and is training them. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, a group of British school girls seem to be blurring the line between Fact,Faith, Fantasy and Fiction.

Based on the “Darling Demonologists” ages, someone should hand them an old mystic text and point to the section on teenagers,hormones and, “Oh, Look ! Puberty and Poltergeist ?”

Five Star Rating

The Exorcist” is an American Cult Classic, as it should be. Hands down I give it a Five Star Rating and remind viewers it carries an R rating.

For your Halloween viewing this is definitely a movie to watch on All Hollow’s Eve or the night before.

Incidentally, when you swing by Wal-Mart to pick up your Twizler’s and Junior Mints, you might want to make a quick stop at the church to make sure you have a crucifix and rosary beads handy. May, as well pick up a little Holy Water. . .to be safe.

Sam

 

 

Exorcist Information Links

 

Exorcism of Roland Doe

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exorcism_of_Roland_Doe

Father Walter Halloran

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Halloran

The Story of a Modern-Day Exorcist

By Gilbert Cruz Monday, Mar. 16, 2009

 

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1885372,00.html


British School Girls Exorcists

We’re not like normal teenagers’: Meet the exorcist schoolgirls who spend their time casting out DEMONS around the world


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2024621/Meet-exorcist-schoolgirls-spend-time-casting-demons-worldwide.html

 

 

 

 


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

October 18, 2012 at 7:23 PM

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Trials, Tribulation, Triumphant Tale of the Old Computer Geek

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Trials, Tribulation, Triumphant,Tale

of the

Old Computer Geek

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

My birthday is only a couple of days after Microsoft Founder Bill Gates. Computer software made Mr. Gates wealthy.  Computer software gave me gray hair and, probably, ulcers,  Nonetheless, I am an “Old Computer Geek.”

United States Air Force “Buck” Sergeant Bill Law, a KC-10 crew chief, of the 2nd Bombardment Wing of Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, did his best to bring me into: The New Emerging Computer Age Of The 1980s.

I was a Junior in Galena High School, in Galena, Missouri, in 1972, when Wes Ashcroft, my math teacher, gave me a 8 by 10-sized paperback book with about a hundred or so pages in it. I forgot the title of the book, but, not the story inside. It outlined the ongoing development of computers.

The Book

In the 1800s, while Thomas Edison and Luther Burbank were working on various inventions, some people were determined to discover a way to capture light to make pictures that would become photography and devices called, cameras. Still, there were other people in the 1800s, that knew there had to be knowledge and a method to build a “Counting Machine.” The overall idea was beyond adding machines, cash registers and calculators.

The technology of the day, of the 1800s, had the refined and polished parts of the Industrial Revolution to work with. But, the polished parts of sheet metal and forged metal arranged together only resulted in abacus type functions that did not allow for the “counting” that the inventors had hoped for.

Those original “counting” machine ideas were the first rough ideas of computers. Alas, while the ambition, passion and innovation of creative people was rampant; technology did not provide a way to combine the metal, mechanical machine functions with a power source to create a computer.

After all, the hard charging newspaper reporters of the 1800s were still pounding out their breaking news stories on heavy manual typewriters to make the morning, afternoon and evening editions of America’s daily newspapers.

The Math Teacher

The book, Mr. Ashcroft gave me, outlined how development of electronic parts had allowed these transistors to be used to build huge room sized contraptions that performed simple mathematical functions. And, the book theorized that someday the “computer”, especially, the popular, expensive game computers built for use in homes might become as common in American homes as televisions and automobiles.

I always remember Mr. Ashcroft because of his smile, sense of humor, and he was the only math teacher I ever had that made me “like” math. I hated math. To me, math was boring. Mr. Ashcroft teaching method helped to allow me to want to understand more about math.

Most people in southwest Missouri, remember, Wes Ashcroft, the math teacher, as the brother of John Ashcroft, who became a United States Attorney General.

The Sergeant

While I never forgot the book that Mr. Ashcroft gave me, it was Sergeant Bill Law, who did his best to convince me that computers would make a difference in the future. He would put a cassette tape in the Tandy Radio Shack cassette recorder and we had to wait for the electronic bits to travel along the cords to wake up the TV or the crude monitor.

Then, the electricity would allow pixels to appear on the screen to reveal childish art that looked like rough cave paintings on the screen, The words at the bottom of the screen were text and described an adventure story that you were suppose to push buttons on the keyboard to play the game.

Bill Law was an early computer gamer. Me, I would shake my head and wonder why anyone would be willing to spend all that money, the time to connect all those cords and pieces of equipment to spend a few minutes to play a computer game.

My First Computer

I told myself I bought my Commodore 64 to impress people and learn computers. It sat on the coffee table in my barracks room and I gave it a light dusting each morning, just in case the First Sergeant (i.e., the “First Shirt”) decided to pull a surprise barracks room inspection. I know, now, I bought the computer to keep my friend from always giving me his “used car salesman computer pitch” and his prophecy that someday computers would change the world.

Bill’s Computer

Bill had a Tandy Radio Shack Color Computer II that he thought was the “Cat’s Meow.” We were two young, single American G.I.s interested in airplanes and girls.

We understood airplanes and we did our best to understand the girls. A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker crew chief, who took the additional training to become a KC-10 crew chief, Sergeant Bill Law knew that computers would change the world.

I bought Bill Law’s old “Trash 80,” computer so he could upgrade to the “elite of the fleet” the Tandy Radio Shack 1000. I took my orders to Kadena Air Base Okinawa and said “Good Riddance To Computers”

How could ugly green screens with dim yellow flashing dots ever hope to change the world ? They did.

Meet The Frankenstein’s Of The Future

My favorite philosophical uncle, “Uncle Sam” had sent me to Kadena Air Base. Day One, The large, long, rectangular, heavy, beige, plastic encased, IBM Selectric III typewriter, with it’s 12 pica elite and courier balls, I had used at Barksdale was not on my desk at Kadena.

A ugly, squat, dark plastic gray box that looked like a cheap, pregnant, TV sat on my desk. It was an NCR computer.

It was a physically ugly machine that looked like it had been born. not in a hospital or laboratory, but in the back seat of a junked car in a salvage yard. It was a gray, plastic electronic head, missing a pike or a body.

The machine was a Frankenstein of the Future that looked like it should of remained in the horrific nightmares of a mental patient in an asylum, rather, than leeching space on my desk.

One look at the ugly machine and it was all I could do to keep my breakfast at the chow hall in my stomach. The only good thing about the ugly machine, it didn’t take up much space on the corner or my desk.

The Miracle Of Newspapers

To be able to publish a newspaper is always a Miracle. There are so many factors that have to happen to be able to get “a newspaper out on the street.”

A good manual or electric typewriter had become the Global Support Beam Of A Worldwide Publishing Industry.

Computers were toys – plastic boxes of electricity and wires for people who were “gamers.”

The idea of “Desktop Publishing” in the mid-1980s seemed to rank right up there with “Unicorn Farming.”

We were suppose to be able to publish a weekly military newspaper. While we had the usual duties of coming up with story ideas, contacting people, setting up interviews, doing interviews and writing the stories and arranging for pictures to be taken – we still had to work with an electronic life form that seemed better suited for the autopsy table of a mad scientist’s laboratory than in an office.

We, military journalists, were the Ernest Hemingways and the Ernie Pyles of the United States Armed Forces, who were expected to moonlight throughout the day as Doctor Frankenstein’s hunchback assistant to try to get our electronic Frankenstein abominations on the desk to do something remotely like typing and publishing.

It was not exciting to me to be at the forefront of a new technology.

I was a newspaper man, who just wanted to get the story in print and out on the street. Of course, global technology proved to be the “ultimate speed freak” because it took off and did not stop.

Computer Curiosity

My contempt for computers changed to curiosity. By the time Uncle Sam handed me orders for “The P.I.,” I had become a neophyte in the Celestial Cosmic Order of Global Geekdom.

I knew how to get into DOS and use wild cards, forward slashes and back slashes to wake up a “Windoze pizza box” computer and get it to blink back to life.

Uncle always had all his “official” policies about computer repair, alas, as the clock on the wall ticks off the seconds to a newspaper deadline and the pizza box on the desk is schizophrenic – it became “red S on the chest time” – and I would hear, “Get Sam !” I never popped the buttons off my uniform shirt to reveal a big red S on my chest, I would just smile, slip into the chair and type my way into MS-DOS.

Deadline Dollar Delays

Uncle Sam, of course, would have been livid at me not waiting for the “blessed, sanctified, certified, official computer US Government repairman”, but, when a newspaper is late getting out on the street; it affects the “credibility” of the publication.

Uncle Sam’s “bean counting, number crunching, regulation writing, regulation reading, penny pinching bureaucrats” could understand, an even more important concept, – miss a newspaper deadline and Uncle Sam has to “pay for the delay.”

And, the delay was never the pocket change of a few dollars, but several hundred dollars that could quickly rise to several thousand dollars as minutes became hours and printing presses sat idle waiting for the news copy to be delivered to the publisher.

When I solved a computer problem, I felt good. I had gotten into the head of the “electronic dumb animal” and jump started it’s mustard seed mind. I had us back at the keyboard ready to “beat the clock” and make the deadline.

Whether the shadowy bureaucrats appreciated it or not, I had saved Uncle “money” and “time” – no need to schedule an official repairman, who would most likely try to give us the song and dance act of, “Umm.  I can’t get to it today.  I’ll have to work you in later in the week.”

Back Burner Bureaucracy of Computer Repair

The “official” computer repairmen, who were usually contracted from a computer company by Uncle Sam never understood a primal instinct of human nature.  Like hungry cave men and women, people have always had a barbaric hunger for information.

Newspapers, dailies, weeklies, military –  were all the “real-time, streaming information” equivalents of the day.  In Society, before facebook and Twitter, people still had an insatiable lust and hunger for the latest factual information on issues that interest them and affected their lives.

When CNN first went “On The Air” it was “The Second Coming of Television Broadcasting,” I, and other Americans did not seem able to get enough of the constant news coverage from around the world.

“The Passionate Priesthood Of Public Publishing”

When the first issues of USA Today came “hot off the presses” in the early 1980s, “The Messiah Of American Newspaper Publishing Had Been Born.” 

The clean layout, colorful design, large, action oriented photos and the “fast” publication of the daily newspaper in what was considered “remote” places in the world made USA Today the facebook and Twitter of the American Newspaper Publishing Industry.

In technical training school we were required to look at the stories and overall design of USA Today each morning before classes.  Instructors were teaching us USA Today design concepts probably as quickly as editors at the newspaper were publishing the ideas.

CNN had transformed American Television News Coverage and USA Today had transformed the American Newspaper Publishing Industry.  Thus, any delay in getting “news out on the street” was an unforgiveable sin of the highest order.

Computer repairmen simply did not understand “The Passionate Priesthood Of Public Publishing.”

Deadline DOS Dancing

When I had succeeded in tinkering and typing around with the DOS codes to get a computer back up and running, I would smile, “The Fate Of The Free World” and more importantly, “My Newspaper” had been on my shoulders and I had “Saved The Day.”

Thus, I “tinkered” and “played” with Windows DOS computers, marveled at the expensive Apple computers and took every opportunity to “dabble” with Amiga computers.

Now, that I am retired – I just want to write, shoot photos and publish my articles and photos.

GIGO Chromosomes

Personal Computers still have too many “GIGO Chromosomes.” GIGO is an early computer term of the 1970s and 1980s, which reminded the early nerds and geeks of a common sense commandment – “Garbage In; Garbage Out,” which meant if you input in the wrong information, then, you would get bad information out of the computer.

Some things Never Change – Love-War- Computers.

Computers have been programmed to be “smarter”, but the flaw remains “intelligence.” Like some people, ALL computers “lack Common Sense.”

A computer can still not think for itself. There are all types of “artificial intelligence” schemes, projects, initiatives and various undertakings ongoing, but – computers still rely on the “human” to input data at some point.

In retirement, I have fixed friends Windows PC computers to get them up and running. I smile at my Filipino and Filipina nephews and nieces and amaze them with my computer knowledge to resurrect the “Lazarus” laptop computer back to life and duty.

I leave the “illegitimate children of computers” – cellphones –  to the fertile young imaginations of my nieces, nephews and future generations.

After my passionate interests in telephone operators “Barksdale 18” and an Offutt telephone operator of my young, single days, I lost my interest in “Ma Bell’s” frustrating ringing device and chose to stand beside Mark Twain, in his conviction, that telephones are annoying, nuisance devices.

Nonetheless, I am an Old Computer Geek. When a computer issue comes up, good reporter that I am I find my metaphorical Ma Bell phone booth, step inside, and emerge “Up, Up And Away” to save the day for “Truth, Justice. . .And A Working Computer.”

Sam

Article published using Windows Live Writer 2011

Written by samwarren55

July 28, 2012 at 8:04 PM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Current Events, Editorial, Family, Opinion, Sam I Am, Stone County History

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