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My Lone Star Christmas by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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My

Lone Star

Christmas Story

THE CHRISTMAS TREE_resized

 

Silver

Christmas Tree

Christy Warren, Leneil Saldana, Rayniel Saldana, Ranilo Saldana, Junea Tanahale and Esmeralda Tanahale, all worked to create the artificial silver Christmas Tree at One Warren Way, Barangay Baras. Every time I look at the tree I am reminded of the silver artificial tree that my Aunt Bill and Uncle Audrey used in Houston, Texas in the 1960s. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Opal M. DeLong Warren, my mother, was a savvy business woman, who learned at an early age how to manage and save her money and the only “risky” investment she ever made was in land that “always paid for itself.”

 

In childhood, I always had a remarkable Christmas. Both of my parents had had “a hard life” growing up on the farm in rural Missouri and rural Texas.

 

The secret to “My Lifetime Of Privileged Childhood Christmas Days” was my mother and father, especially my mother.

 

Both parents, “were bound and determined” if they ever had a child – that child – would have a better life “growing up” than they did.

 

I did.

 

My Childhood Christmas Celebrations” were always outstanding. The devotion of my parents to make life better for their child guaranteed that the slightest detail was never overlooked.

 

Christmas Shopping

 

Texas LogoIn Houston, my mother always planned my Christmas holiday celebrations with the precision and intensity of someone required to brief the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Momma never overlooked any details.

 

I remember Momma taking me with her to go shopping downtown at Woolworths and grocery shopping at Weingartens, in the suburbs.

 

The Airline Shopping Mall was one of the first major shopping malls built in our section of Houston. It was a place of wonder, when I was a child. There were so many shops with so many items to a five-year-old boy it looked like you could shop nonstop for a week.

 

Momma would swing by Aunt Bill’s house and pick her up or she would take a bus and meet us in the cafeteria of Woolworths.

 

Momma never left me with a babysitter, so wherever she went – I went.

 

Of course, Aunt Bill would take me by the hand and we would go shopping in the toy department, while Momma would shop for other items on her shopping list.

 

Aunt Bill never had a driver’s license until after her 48th birthday, when she passed the test.

 

Nights close to Christmas, Momma would have daddy set aside the night shift job to go Christmas shopping with us. There was a huge store called, “Globe” that seemed to stretch for acres across the horizon in all directions. We would make evening shopping trips to Globe to browse the long aisles.

 

Momma and I loved to shop. Daddy was the traditional American male shopping stereotype, who always just wants to “go in get what he needed and get out of the store.”

 

Southern Protocol

 

The United States is the United States from sea to shining sea. Americans are pretty much all alike in all the 50 states and trust territories. However, “The South” is still “The South.”

 

The southern United States definitely has a distinct sense of protocol that is missing from the northern states. It is a sense of protocol and etiquette not much different from any branch of the United States Armed Forces.

 

The best way to describe “Southern Protocol” —- imagine “The British Monarchy in Stetsons and dress cowboy boots.”

 

What It Means To Be A Texan

 

At heart, “A Texan Is A Successful Hybrid Of An Israeli And A United States Marine.”    Texas Logo 

 

Like the Israelis, Texans know they too are “God’s Chosen People – Texans are The American Version Of God’s Chosen People.”

 

Like a United States Marine, a Texan is all about God and Country, which means “The Battle Of The Alamo” is engineered into your DNA and the follow-up report of where General Sam Houston and the Texicans caught up with Santa Anna and his men is engineered into your RNA, which translates to “The Lone Star” will find a way to shine through any adversity at all costs.

 

Citizens of the other southern states have their sense of pride. Texas and Texans citizenship genetics is a unique blend of confidence, arrogance and pride.

 

Louisiana Pride

 

Louisiana citizens share a state pride that is similar to the Texan’s. Some of the original settlers of Louisiana had been forced to leave their native land and essentially found sanctuary in Louisiana. Then, you factor in the French heritage and the Caribbean cultural influence to create a unique state.

 

New Orleans’ magick, superstition, Voodoo, Hoodoo, Santeria and varying degrees of Roman Catholicism has always been “A Busty Bright Red Bra Waving In The Face Of America’s Conservative Religious Right.”

 

Factor in lawyers trained in the Code Napoleon, who practice law within the United States’ modified British legal system and Americans at large consider Louisiana an oddity best visited during Mardi Gras.

 

All the states of the United States have unique cultures based on their histories. The southern states have always had the European heritage belief that suggests your heritage should be a part of who you are —- rather than just an old family history book in a box packed away in a storage unit and forgotten about.

 

Texans and Louisianans simply seem more ready to embrace their family heritages and proudly live in the spotlight. The traditional southern culture concept is based on respect and politeness.

 

Children in the southern states in 2012 may not be as formally trained as I was as a child.

 

I was taught: “Please.” “Thank You.” “Yes, sir.” “No, sir.” “Yes, mam.” “No, mam.”

 

I was taught to always respect my elders. I was taught to be polite. I was taught if you disagree to do it in a civil manner. Only the adults got to cuss or lose their temper, but, that was only after they had exhausted all the civil rules of politeness and protocol

 

Smart Aleck ?

 

When I first went to “boot camp”, my first Military Training Instructor, Technical Sergeant Carr, a native of Kansas City, Missouri, accused me of being a “smart aleck” because I answered, “Yes, sir” and “No,sir” as soon as I got off the bus at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

 

Airman Basic Warren are you being a smart aleck with me,” he grumbled at the top of his lungs loudly into my face.

 

Sir. No, sir. Daddy is a Texan, sir.”

 

Titles Of Respect

 

I was taught that children did not interrupt adults talking in a conversation. You let people finish saying what they have to say, before you reply.

 

Anyone older than you are is always Mr., Mrs, Miss, Mz.

 

You never ever call anyone by their last name without a courtesy title like Mr., or Mrs., in front of the last name, especially, if that person is middle age or a senior citizen – it is a sign of respect,

 

Never ever refer to a middle-aged or senior citizen by their first name, even if they tell you it is okay. You would still call them by their respected title and last name.

 

When Momma and I moved to Missouri, my first three years of school I always felt weird because the Southern Protocol had been engineered into my DNA.

 

Classmates would look at me weird when I added Mrs before the last name of their mothers and added Mr before the last name, when addressing their fathers.

Ozarks Informality

In the Ozarks, kids call adults by their first names. In the Ozarks, kids could answer, “Yeah.”, “Yep.”, “Nope”, or “Nah.,” I was never allowed to use the informality.

 

I was taught it was okay to call kids my own age by their first names and if they had a brother or sister only one year older.

 

If the brother or sister was two years older than my classmate then the Texas and Southern Protocol default kicked in and I had to add Mr., or Miss.

 

The Southern Protocol was always comfortable and normal “Down South” because everyone did it. But, using the “Southern Protocol” procedures in the Ozarks always made me seem like a “foreigner” to my classmates, their siblings and their parents.

 

By the fourth grade, I didn’t care what my classmates thought of my “Southern Protocol.” Daddy expected me to do it. Momma required me to do it. I did it. By fourth grade, “Southern Protocol” was like eye color – it was a part of me.

 

Momma The Hillbilly

 

Momma took pride in being known as a Missouri hillbilly. She often referred to herself as a hillbilly. People would nod. Then, of course, when she called someone “Mr. Keithley” or “Mrs. Keithley,” Ozarkers would frown at the Mr., or Mrs.” being added before the last name, when they expected to hear a first name.

 

Usually an Ozarks’ family member would whisper or speak up, “Opal spent years living in Texas.”

 

As a child I would smile and wonder why Texas just didn’t issue a passport that the other states would recognize.

 

Texas Protocol and Southern Protocol in day to day business affairs in the Ozarks was like being a diplomat from a foreign country.

 

Texas, and maybe, Louisiana, should have their own embassies in Washington D.C., even as states of the United States because Texas and Louisiana really are still foreign countries to their fellow Americans.

 

Political Awareness – NOT

Political Correctness

 

Momma was a politically astute woman. She did not do or say things because they were expected or because it was the “politically correct fad” of the moment.

 

A politically aware person bases their actions on the situation and their beliefs. A “politically correct” person, is like America’s wimp politicians of the 1970s, who all had the “backbones of jellyfish.” Instead of standing up to controversy or working to find a solution, the “politically correct wimps” went with the “fad of the moment” and made America appear like a moody school girl in domestic and foreign policy matters.

 

Momma was politically aware. She made it a point to vote in every presidential election, every election for sheriff and the school board election. She voted for the other offices like county clerk, governor and the others, but, she really focused on the president because he or she calls the overall shots that can lead to war or peace. The sheriff has massive amounts of power in a county. The school board simply means they can go off the deep end and do things that are really going to send your property taxes through the roof.

 

Momma knew and dealt with politicians in the Ozarks, but, they never really knew if Opal was a supporter or just a polite woman.

 

Subtle Messages

 

Momma had learned the Texas Protocol and Southern Protocol custom of referring to people as “a personal friend of mine” or the remark, “they are an acquaintance of mine.”

 

Down South people understood the remarks identified a level of response. It was a subtle endorsement or a subtle rejection of a candidate, leader, official or the person next door.

 

Down South the “personal friend” and the “acquaintance” remarks were a polite way of showing where you stood. In the Ozarks, people shrugged off the remarks as though it was a boast.

 

Momma didn’t brag or boast. She always reminded me, “No one likes a braggart or a blow hard. Don’t blow your own horn.”

 

Family Holidays “Down South” in Houston, in the 1960s, were treated like “an audience with the Queen of England,” “a formal state dinner at the White House” or “an audience at the Vatican.” The significance of the holiday determined the level of formality.

 

The Generals And The Realtors

 

One of the major differences of the 1950s and the 1960s “Down South” as opposed to the Ozarks was in the “formality” of the American Woman.

 

In the South, once you sat foot in a home, it was comfortable, warm, functional and organized like a commanding general’s office. In the home, everything had a place and everything was in the place.

 

Here To Stay

 

There might be lace dollies on the furniture. Even if the home had kids, you still felt at home and everything was organized. It was formal and lived in, but, never gave the feeling that there was damage or that you were “under attack.”

 

Kids grew up with the expectation that all the important formal ceremonies of life would be within the four walls and under the roof. Home for Christmas really meant you had to be “Home for Christmas” to truly enjoy the holiday.

 

The home always had a comfortable sense of “relaxed and functional formality.” The South had a “home” mentality. The Southern “home” was a base of operations and the “wife” was the general in charge who made sure “the base was there to stay.”

Ready To Redeploy

 

In the Ozarks, in the 1950s and 1960s, women seemed to still have “the log cabin mentality.” It was the feeling that, “We cook in here and sleep in here, but, once we get some money, then, we will go find a ‘real ‘ home to live in and a realtor can sell this one.”

 

There was usually the feeling you get on being assigned to a base on a closure list, which is we do the job, until we get orders somewhere else and the realtors show up here or the bulldozers to start the closure procedure.

 

Kids seemed to grow up with the expectation that their homes were more like “bus stations”, which meant “Christmas On The Road” indicated you wouldn’t have to be home for the holidays.

 

The Ozarks had a “temporary and looking for something better” mentality. The Ozarks’ “home” seemed a “deployment area” and the “wife” was “the realtor in charge who stood ready to load the kids in the car and head for the state line.”

 

Texas Logo

 

Christmas Itinerary

 

Christmas meant you pulled out all the stops and went for “A Norman Rockwell Christmas” that could be filmed by a major motion picture studio for possible showing on the screens of theaters.

 

Zero Hour for Christmas Day relied on the children. The child was the “On Scene Commander,” once the child got to the Christmas Tree the mission kicked off.

 

Like a Strategic Air Command Operational Readiness Inspection,you knew it would happen; you just didn’t know when ? Parents hoped the child would wait until sunrise to begin Christmas Day.

 

Operation Christmas Tree” means the parents watch the kids be kids and have fun. Have the video movie cameras and the film or digital still cameras loaded with charged batteries and recording media positioned nearby. After all, children don’t learn about “photo opportunities ” until they grow older.

 

Once Operation Christmas Tree ends, then, Mom and Dad will have their plans to implement for the rest of the day.

 

In Houston,plans after Operation Christmas Tree, meant Aunt Bill and Uncle Audrey, would go to church and then show up for Christmas Dinner. Daddy and Uncle Audrey would shoot the breeze, while Aunt Bill and Momma would cook Christmas Dinner,

 

Usually the day would extend past Christmas Dinner, while the adults talked until the early evening, when Aunt Bill and Uncle Audrey would head home.

 

Christmas in Houston meant a 98 percent chance of “No Snow.”

 

C – Day !

 

December 25, 1959

The Home of Samuel E. and Opal M. DeLong Warren

313th East 26th Street

Houston, Texas

 

I have never been a morning person.

 

C – Day ! Christmas Day was always the exception to my genetic programming.

 

I bolted out of bed.

 

By the time, my tiny feet hit the floor, I was already halfway down the hallway and into the screened in porch room.

 

The huge Christmas Tree was only six foot tall, but, when you are a five-year old boy, the tree in the corner is always as huge as a California Redwood. Momma had massive amounts of matched decorations on the trees. The ornaments were the painted glass ball ornaments of the era.

 

The bubble lights always mesmerized me like a deer in the headlights. The plastic UFO shaped disk bulbs were two tones of color like red and green or blue and yellow. A glass tube contained a red fluid that when heated by electricity would “bubble.”

 

I would shake off my bubble light trance and dive for the brightly wrapped boxes under the tree. It helped that Momma and Daddy were workaholics because I always got what I wanted and more that I didn’t even know existed.

 

 

Marx Electric Robot

 

The centerpiece of this Christmas celebration for me – the Marx Electric Robot. It was an ugly toy.

 

Looks are not everything.

 

My robot came out of the box, to display a casket gray and dark maroon paint scheme.

 

It had a face, only a mother could love. It had a square, alphabet block style head. It had a Voodoo mask expression with a hideous toothless grin. The original toy designer must have worked on the sets of Hollywood Halloween Horror flicks because the toy looked scary.

 

It had a toolbox drawer in it’s stomach, which was cool because it had a wrench or two and the rectangular drawer looked like it belonged at that position.

 

The pedestal base leg design was misleading. You thought the robot would walk like a person with one leg in front of the other. Bur, actually, it’s walking function was more of a “rolling” function.

 

The fact that the big robot took two D sized batteries, “flashlight batteries” to move like it “walked” was a big selling point for kids and parents.

 

The C claw pincher hand at the end of the arm allowed the robot to pick up a “Junior” robot, a smaller robot that came packaged with the main robot.

 

I don’t remember the junior robot “doing anything.” It was a sculpted piece of plastic that sat on the floor for the main robot to “pickup” with the pincher arm.

 

The major selling point of this robot was “The Morse Code function.” You pushed the button on the back of the maroon blockhead and the large yellow eyes on the face would “flash out” Morse code.

 

My robot had The Morse Code key printed out in yellow on the back of the robot, so you knew how many dots and dashes you needed to spell out a letter or a word.

 

In the 1950s this robot was “technology.” In 2012, you can find the non-working robots listed on ebay, without the “Junior” plastic robot that always seems to have disappeared.

 

The moving and the Morse Code function of the robot “amazed me.” I always had to show my aunts and uncles this nifty toy when they came by to visit.

 

Everyone always laughed at the ugly little robot with the flashing Morse Code eyes. Even the adults thought it was “swell” because of the Morse Code function.

 

The Space Race Is On

 

The “simplistic technology” of this robot in the Cold War years of America and “The Space Race” always served to remind you that the Russians may have beat the Americans into space with Sputnik, but the “Race For The Moon Is On.”

 

By 1960, it is impossible to imagine a boy in America from age four to 13 that wasn’t ready to pack his bags and report to NASA to become an astronaut. Robots and space toys were all the rage from the date Sputnik launched in 1957 until Man Walked On The Moon in 1969.

 

Battalions Of Boy Astronauts Downsized

 

America could have been and should have been the nation that made Gene Roddenberry’s United Federation of Planet’s Star Trek future a reality.

 

Alas, the 1970s and “lily-liveried politicians” decided to choose” wallets and worry” or intelligence, imagination, creativity, desire, drive and ambition. Generations of America’s “Battalions Of Boy Astronauts” grew up to become “clock punching peasant taxpayers.”

 

While the future rests in the ether of time, I rip through the paper and become surrounded by a science fiction lunar landscape of discarded boxes and strange paper trees, the floor under the tree would disappear under the revealed toy inventory.

 

My

Marx Three Keys To Treasure Bagatelle Machine

 

 

December 25, 1961

The Home of Samuel E. and Opal M. DeLong Warren

313th East 26th Street

Houston, Texas

 

I rush to the Christmas Tree in the living room and began ripping into the brightly wrapped packages. I ripped into the Christmas paper on the oblong box and unleashed “The Future.”

 

Walk into an American bowling alley, cafe, restaurant, hamburger joint, drive in, bar, or beer joint and you would almost always find one and sometimes several bagatelle machines.

 

They were loud, noisy, gaudy and they mesmerized generations of people until the 1980s when the coin-operated video game industry began to install their annoying game machines.

 

Everyone seemed to love the bagatelle machines. You could even buy smaller versions in toy stores and the toy sections of drug stores and grocery stores.

 

America loved her pinball machines.

 

My Marx Three Keys To Treasure Bagatelle Machine was a child’s version of “The Wheel Of Fortune” television game show.

 

Inside the large maroon dial of the wheel were shiny, bright, gumball machine novelty prizes. At least, one marble has to align in the three spaces of the maroon plastic selection device. Then, you move the peg, which activates the contraption that opens the door on the wheel to reveal your “treasure.”

 

Momma, daddy, Aunt Bill, Uncle Audrey, and I would crowd around the kitchen table on a Friday or Saturday evening and play the game. The adults seemed to enjoy the game as much as any kid.

 

There were spaces printed with points listed, which meant if you got a pen and notepad, you could keep track of your points and figure out who had the most skill with the game.

 

One trip to Texas and the game got loaded in the Impala for the trip back to Missouri. In Missouri, whenever the game was placed on the kitchen table, adults and kids always crowded around the machine and the evening passed with people laughing.

 

There was a few years in the 1970s, when the toy occupied a space in the living room closet, but, even in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, the toy would appear on the kitchen table and people would crowd around for a game of pinball.

 

In December 2011, the toy was packed into our household goods for shipment to the Republic of the Philippines. Travel turned the pristine, but dusty box into a pathetic version of it’s former glory.

 

The toy survived the trip, with a minor amount of damage. Nonetheless, when the machine is set up on the kitchen table, the kids crowd around for an afternoon of pinball.

 

I salute the Marx toy company workers because any company that can create a product that from 1961 until 2012 is still standing the test of time is a company that had a “great idea.”

 

And, 51 years later, the bagatelle machine is still bringing smiles and keeping kids and adults entertained for an afternoon or an evening to create a “Treasure Trove Of Memories.” – “What A Toy !”

 

My Immortal “ Kodak Moment ”

 

Christmas morning in Houston, I would look up from the rising sea of discarded Christmas wrapping paper. I radiated, joy, happiness, excitement, like a new sun sending light and energy through space.

 

Mom and Dad would heard the commotion of my childish exaltations.

 

Yes !” “Gee whiz !” “Alright !” “Oh, boy !” “Swell !.” “Neat !” “Neato !”

 

They would step into the room, smiling, wearing pajamas and bulky red Christmas bath robes. Each had a cup of piping hot coffee that they sipped on.

 

The camera in my mind snapped the picture of Mom and Dad standing there smiling at me sipping their coffee. Click ! That “Kodak Moment” is forever framed in the photographic gallery of my memory.

 

I was a blessed little boy. I was a spoiled little boy.

 

Back in the 21st Century, One Warren Way, Barangay Baras, Leyte, Republic of the Philippines. I watched Christy and the kids cut out the letters for a holiday banner like a New York City jeweler facets a diamond. They were meticulous and precise in their use of the scissors on the paper.

 

As the days until Christmas Day pass, the kids talk about and look forward to their school Christmas parties.

 

My wish is Christmas morning, the kids notice Uncle Sam and Aunt Christy stroll out on the porch to watch them release their “inner kid” on the brightly wrapped boxes under the Christmas Tree.

 

I hope they pause only long enough to capture a “Kodak Moment” that they can place in the photo folders of their minds to hang on to in the years to come.

 

Early in the morning, Christy and I will both be sipping from hot cups of coffee. Of course, Uncle Sam with his camera will be ready to take a few family snapshots.

Sam

Texas Logo

 

Sidebar

 

Rubber Toys of the 1960s

 

The nice thing about being a kid in the 1950s is you got tin and metal toys at Christmas to play with.

 

I had a collection of Auburn hard rubber cars and trucks to play with. They were fun toys to play with.

 

I didn’t like the plastic toys because they broke too easily.

 

I loved the metal and tin toys because they were durable and could take whatever you through at them. Usually the worst thing that happen would be you might knock off some paint from the toy.

 

You could leave a tin or metal toy out in the rain or snow and it would still be where you left it. And, even in the salt air of Texas, the toy didn’t “rust out” that quickly.

 

In the mid to late 1960s, parents began to complain to Congress that the tin and metal toys had sharp edges that might hurt the child.

 

Then, in the 1970s, some kids had put the metal toys in their mouth. Parents complained to Congress because many of the metal toys were coated in lead based paint, which was suppose to create health problems and lower the child’s I.Q.

 

Congress, of course, passed the laws.

 

No one , apparently, ever had the common sense idea to remind parents : “They are your kids. You are suppose to look in on your kids every so often to make sure they aren’t misusing, abusing or destroying their toys. Parents are suppose to check on their kids to make sure they are not using their toys in a manner that will hurt or injure the child.”

 

Kids aren’t born knowing how to play with toys; you have to show toddlers and three-year – olds how to play with toys. It only takes a couple of minutes to sit down on the floor and show a kid how to roll a car on the floor. It only takes a moment to remind a child that you don’t throw the toy at people or furniture.”

 

The rubber toys were fun and would last for generations.

 

The metal and tin toys were durable and would last for generations.

 

The plastic toys were cheap. Accidentally, drop a plastic toy and it could smash to smithereens. Usually, a plastic toy lasted only a few minutes.

 

Sam

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

December 21, 2012 at 3:55 AM

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Rocket’s Red Gare Over Galena Pride. Politics, Patriots

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Rockets’ Red Glare – Over Galena

Pride,

Politics,

Patriots

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Galena, Missouri is one of those Norman Rockwell towns that seems best represented by oil paint on canvas.

Galena, Missouri, a small town in the Heartland of America that gets immortalized by a Ralph Waldo Emerson or a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Galena, Missouri is the kind of small town that has New York City, Boston, Hollywood, teenagers in big city high school English classes smirking, “Yeah, Right, dude. Galena. Missouri – Like some small town like that ever existed Maybe, on Paramount’s back lot or in one of those writer guys’ imaginations.”

Galena, Missouri does exists

The Situation Report

Galena, Missouri is a small town of about 500 people in southwest Missouri. We are 78 miles from Joplin, Missouri, which makes us less than a hundred miles from the famous city in Kansas, named Galena.

There are actually eight towns or cities in the United States of America named Galena.

Galena, Kansas is a famous mining town.

Galena is a precious mineral used in lead and used in making ammunition.

The irony of Galena, Missouri is that an early explorer supposedly saw a mineral in the river that he identified as Galena and thus, Galena, Missouri would be born.

This Galena is a small town, which for decades boasted about being “The Float Fishing Capitol Of The World.” The Bill Rogers Motel on the the shores of the James River would welcome hunters and fishermen from throughout the United States.

Table Rock Dam went operational and people quit coming to Galena to go “float fishing.”

Hidden In The Hills

Most of Galena’s businesses in 2011 are out on the shoulders of the state highway. But, if you turn off the highway and go around the hillside or up the road into the city, you will find Galena. Missouri.

The 1920 Stone County Courthouse on the National Register of Historic Places is the hardest working tourist attraction in America because the building has offices, where work still gets done. The Bank of Galena Museum is the other tourist attraction in town. Outside of the funeral home, bank, medical lab, and the Masonic Lodge – basically, county government moved in to take over the abandoned storefronts of the square. The Baptist Church sits near, but not on the square. The new library is in town, but off the square proper.

Y Bridge Park

Over the railroad tracks, you find the Y Bridge Park, which sits directly across from a private home, which was Dick Lebow’s DX Service Station in 1960.

July 4, 2011 — In the city park, people began stopping by to see what the Galena Park Board was up to. The annual fireworks display is set up on the Y Bridge and people can watch from the park.

Mother Nature’s warm attitude sent people strolling into the snow cone concessions on the park grounds. Some grandparents looked for comfortable places to sit up their lawn chairs or a spot to sit on on the ground, while anxious parents rushed around making last minute preparations.

The dunking booth caused a few youngsters to limber up their arms for a possible future in the St. Louis Cardinals. Some kids smiled to show off their face painted kittens and flags. Meanwhile, parents, especially mothers, rushed about with wide pieces of ribbons and long stemmed flowers.

The long lowboy tractor trailer trailer sit front and center and commanded the center stage spot. Hidden behind patriotic pennants and beneath a humongous American Flag, the presence of keyboards, drums and displayed guitars suggested, “the band isn’t in the house – yet.”

An arched white metal trellis entwined in vines sprouts up on the flatbed trailer and like a fairy godmother, the young master of ceremonies seems to magically appear.

Tiny Tots Time.

Stone County’s smallest citizens make their debutante debut. The little girl’s stroll out on to the portable stage. The emcee asks questions and the youngest girls stare back at all the people in the crowd. Judges make their decisions and trophies are awarded to Stone County’s young future Miss America Contestants. Then, the band steps on stage and entertains with a variety of rock and roll and country and western music.

Meanwhile, Bingo is going on under the rural pavilion with the baby blue telephone poles. While the band plays, a few children dance to the music. Everyone is enjoying the sunshine and waiting for the fireworks. I wander around and take some photos for prosperity and my blog.

Then, I get asked if I want to call out Bingo numbers. Why not ?

The Aquamarine Compote

Back in the mid-1960s on the courthouse lawn, during a Stone County Fair, I and some devoted Bingo players settled in to a long highly polished dining room table to play Bingo, on the east lawn of the courthouse. They probably loved the game.

Me, I had my eye on an aquamarine compote to give my mother. That Bingo game lasted until midnight because I still remember how tired everyone seemed, when the person in charged announced the time and said that was the end of the night’s bingo.

I never did win the compote.

But, the man in charge of that Bingo game allowed me to pay ten dollars to buy the compote. At least, I got the compote for my mom.

Bingo Baby Boomer

This Fourth of July, I was willing to try my talents at calling out the numbers. I do have one of the best of all qualifications – I have a big mouth.

Most of the players seemed to be smiling and winning, so I kept calling out the numbers until the game ended before the fireworks started about nine p.m.

The people in the park seemed in a festive mood as I strolled out of the park to find a location to shoot fireworks photos. The number of people in the park reminded me of my childhood in the 1960s and 1970s: Election Night.

Election Night in the 1960s and 1970s, people would come to Galena for election results.

Give Me That Old Time Politics – Election Run Up

Politics in Stone County and Galena, Missouri in the 1960s was like being Neil Armstrong ready to step on the moon – it was an adventure. The excitement in the air was like taking the enthusiasm for the Academy Awards, the Miss America Pageant, The World Series and The Super Bowl and rolling it into one event called: Election Night.

In the 1960s, Independents were like wood nymphs no one could prove they existed – and no one cared.

In the 1960s, there were Democrats in Stone County, but, they were covert.

Democrats were like CIA agents – everyone suspected them of being Democrats, but know one knew for sure. Unless a Stone County Republican died in office and a Missouri Democrat Governor appointed a Stone County man to serve out the term – you never knew.

In the 1960s, Stone County still celebrated Galena’s favorite son, Dewey Short. The congressman had gotten Galena the Y Bridge and gotten Stone County Table Rock Dam and the United States Navy even named a ship, the U.S.S. Stone County. Thanks to Congressman Short’s popularity, no Republican would dare pass up Galena or Stone County.

Congressman Gene Taylor campaigned at political rallies in Stone County. I listened to State Senator Emory Melton at one of the political rallies. I even attended a political rally and fish fry at Shoals Motel for a Republican challenger to Sheriff Tommy Walker. Most of the aggressive, get out the vote, campaigns of the 1960s were not against Democrats, they were Republicans squaring off to take the county nomination in August for the November election.

Crane, Missouri – 38th Parallel Of Missouri Politics

The Crane Broiler Festival was always an important Political Demilitarized Zone: The 38th Parallel Of Missouri Politics. By the broiler festival in late August, Missouri Republicans had earned their local and county party nominations, showing up at Crane to make speeches always helped to bring hold out hardliners into the fold and to remind the people, who said, “I vote for the person; not the party” – that they weren’t in Kansas in ruby slippers – they were in Stone County, Missouri – where even Jesus Christ was expected to vote Republican!

In more than 50 years of life, I never recall a Democrat or an Independent ever speaking at The Annual Crane Broiler Festival.

Election Night In Stone County In The 1960s

Come Election Night, you knew collectively Stone County voted “A Straight Republican Ticket,”; what you didn’t know was how the rest of America voted?

Election Day people would begin drifting into Galena to wait for “the fireworks.” Once the polls closed, then, information would start to find its way around the square. There was always a carnival atmosphere in town. Galena, Missouri has always been a town that “rolls up the sidewalks after 4 p.m.,” but – election night people would sit on the courthouse lawn, camp out in one of the businesses on the square and wait.

A pickup would be parked on the street in front of the courthouse. In those days, the Stone County Health Center was Gene Hicks Cafe and Pharmacy. You could sit in the cafe and watch someone in the back of the pickup scrawling the changing election numbers on to the two joined and tepid blackboards. Some of the local old timers would camp out on the church style pew benches leaned up against one of the trees.

Everyone always waited for the results of two elections: The President Of The United States Of America and The Sheriff Of Stone County.

All the results were yelled out from the back of the pickup before the figures were scrawled on the board, but usually people only seemed to really care about who got the White House and who gets to be The Sheriff Of Stone County.

Sometimes some people would be concerned about who became The Governor Of Missouri and, in later years, some people seemed interested in who won election as County Clerk or one of the county commissioners – Usually, though, in Stone County – the President and the Sheriff were the Big Dogs that kept people on the edge of their seats.

While the fireworks exploded over head to announce the crescendo to this Fourth of July, I realized America Politics will be no less explosive in the 21st Century. The thunderous roar of the blasts served as a reminder that the political apathy that we tolerate keeps us as spectators on the bleachers in our own political processes.

We have to watch our politicians, listen to their words and watch their actions. We have to hold politicians accountable to maintain freedom. When we shrug off those responsibilities, then, we get less than we deserve. We get whatever is let at the bottom of the barrel.

Freedom should always be celebrated by the explosions and fireworks overhead. The loss of American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and the current state of America’s economy suggests that we may have shrugged off the political process once too often. We need to get back into the fray. We need to support Americans with vision for freedom and the future.

Generations of aspiring young pitchers and Miss America contestants have the right to expect more from the inherited legacy of their nation. Freedom should always be protected and celebrated, which is, no doubt, the lesson that The Founding Fathers intended to leave enshrined in our hearts.

Sam

American Health Care Bullet – Your Name On It

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American Health Care Bullet – Your Name On It

A National Day

Of Civil Disobedience

for Health Care

Plan and Campaign

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

The American Health Care Bullet has your name on it. An unexpected medical crisis or an accident and the bullet fires and destroys your lifetime of work, savings and accomplishments.   Copyright Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

There is a loaded gun at your head – American Health Care.

The finger on the trigger is the United States Government.

James Richard Verone dodged the bullet – He robbed a bank to go to prison to receive Health Care,

The loaded pistol of American Health Care remains at your head.

The American Health Care Pistol Is At Your Head waiting for an unexpected medical crisis or accident to strike you. The American Health Care Bullet with your name on it then fires and allows you to be blown into poverty. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

You In The Orange Jumpsuit.

Look in the mirror. You could be the next James Richard Verone.

Sooner or later, everyone gets ill. Sooner or later, everyone needs medical care. Without National Health Care, the finger on the trigger squeezes and in an instant your life is reduced to poverty. Everything you have ever worked for is now owned by a doctor, a hospital, an HMO, an insurance company or numerous creditors, who wait for the belching bureaucratic buzzards of the American Legal System to claw apart your financial carcass.

Look in the mirror – Your grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, sister, brother, your son, your daughter, or you . . . You could be the next James Richard Verone.

You might only be a single heartbeat away from wearing an orange jump suit.

The Bomb Vest Of Uncertainty

  For decades, Americans have screamed at The Deaf, Dumb And Blind Fools Of The Congress Of The United States Of America. For decades, Presidential Wannabes have “Promised” A Plan For National Health Care. Americans cannot continue to work with The Bomb Vest Of Uncertainty strapped to their chests as they go about trying to earn a living. A simple accident or incident triggers uncertainty and a diagnosis of cancer, hospitalization from a car wreck and suddenly a life ends up weighed against medical bills.

  Gas prices rise. Food prices rise. The U.S. Economy is a myth of vanishing smoke. And there is no net to even protect citizen’s health, which allows them to receive health care to keep working.

You have a job today; you might not have a job tomorrow. No job and your Health Care goes away.

  The United States Government does not flinch when the pistol fires. The American Health Care Bullet bores through the gray matter of your brain. The weapon’s recoil simply signals that another American is Dead from lack of affordable health care. Family and friends will grieve over your obituary and try hard to ignore that lack of health care is being written into their obituary.

James Richard Verone still wears his orange jump suit and sits ignored in the American Legal System. We have all read the story and moved on with our lives.

But, the American Gun Of Health Care remains wedged against our temples. The finger flexes on the trigger and beads of sweat emerge on our foreheads.

The American Health Care Pistol Stays Loaded And Ready To Fire. The constant threat of an unexpected medical crisis or accident forces Americans into bankruptcy and poverty. The White House and Congress seem unwilling to stand up to HMOs and insurance companies. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Someday, pershaps, someday soon – you will need expensive, excessive health care. The American Health Care Bullet in the chamber has your name on it.

The uncertainty of Life always manages to spring unforeseen medical issues upon people.  An automobile accident, an

The American Health Care Pistol Stays Loaded And Ready To Fire. The constant threat of an unexpected medical crisis or accident forces Americans into bankruptcy and poverty. The White House and Congress seem unwilling to stand up to HMOs and insurance companies. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

unexpected heart attack, a sudden stroke or a diagnosis of cancer can be the pressure that squeezes the trigger and starts the explosive chain of events that can destroy a person’s lifetime of achievements and personal savings.

Will the hot metal shoot down the barrel, break through your skull and send gunpowder and metal fragments exploding into your brain because you don’t have Health Care coverage ?

Civil Disobedience

Throughout history there has only been one nonviolent way to force a government to listen to citizens – Civil Disobedience.

Civil Disobedience helped to end America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The problem was the sits ins and protests were sporadic and uncontrolled like lightning sparked brush fires and it took years before the United States Government finally had to listen to citizens.

National Day Of Civil Disobedience For Health Care

A National Day Of Civil Disobedience For Health Care will get political leaders attention. If people come together to agree upon a Day Not To Show Up For Work, then, Government will grind to a halt for a day.

For A National Day Of Civil Disobedience to be successful all participating Americans have to agree to basic ground rules.

No Violence

The Essential Requirement For Success is No Violence. The success of the student sit-ins of the 1960s were they did not destroy lives and personal property. Violence only mobilizes the American Legal System to pull out all the stops to maintain Public Order, which allows the Government the ability to use any and all means at it’s disposal to put down any suspected hint of an uprising.

Take The Day Off

A National Day Of Civil Disobedience where Americans agree not to show up for work is the one technique that Uncle Sam can not defend against. If people don’t show up for work, then, No Business gets done. It breaks no law for a business to simply “Take The Day Off.”

Common Sense Rules

The Uniformed Code Of Military Justice requires military personnel to perform their official duties, so they cannot legally participate in such a day, nor, should anyone in military uniform risk the threat of court martial.

Americans, who work in law enforcement and in life saving jobs, should not jeopardize their lives of themselves or fellow citizens by participation. Thus, guards at Federal and State prisons and local jails should not walk off the job or fail to show up for work. Naturally, paramedics, nurses and doctors should not just walk out of hospitals.

But, there are jobs in America, where Americans can simply stay home from work for a day.

The financial fallout should be sufficient enough to sober up Congress.

Red, White And Blue Flu

A National Day when Wall Street feels the national surgical strike of No Business, No Revenue For A Day.

Americans across the nation, simply come together with family and friends and agree to a day when they will “Take The Day Off.” Then, they pick up the telephone or cell phone and call their bosses to “Stay Home From Work With A Massive Case Of Red, White And Blue Flu.”

Small business might support the national sick day because they can’t afford to provide employees with health care and Congress has ignored small businesses as well as Americans on this issue.

Wake Up The White House, Sober Up Congress!

A single day would wake up the White House and Sober Up Congress – but, it will take more than one day for the White House, Congress and The Supreme Court Of The United States Of America to realize ALL Americans are united in a demand for an immediate and effective policy of national health care.

By 1973, the Italian Government had already had about 42 new governments since the end of World War II, based on my research. Italians felt their government wasn’t working and they walked away for a few days until a new government could be organized. The simple National Stirke – No Confidence Vote technique meant that leaders had to come up with a way to solve the immediate issue.

Congress Can Find The Money For National Health Care

America can afford National Health Care.

Congress found the money for the Space Race.

Congress found the money for the Arms Race during the Cold War.

Congress can find the money for National Health Care. They just have never wanted to. HMOs, insurance companies have lobbied Congress to go fishing and forget about health care.

Congress found the money to fight the War In Afghanistan.

Congress found the money to fight the War In Iraq.

Congress can look at the budget and divert funds from some programs into National Health Care until they pass legislation to set aside funds beginning in the next fiscal year.

Inalienable Right

A Non-Violent – National Day Of Civil Disobedience will fire the starting gun to make the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court realize that “Life, Liberty and The Pursuit Of Happiness” involves – a person’s health to be able to live that “inalienable right.”

We can all forget James Richard Verone and move on with our lives. When a major Health Care Crisis hits our life, we might remember that guy back in 2011 who robbed a bank to get health care. Then, we will wonder why we didn’t do something to try and convince American politicians to make National Health Care a matter of national law and policy.

National Health Care is not a political issue; it is a neglected, inalienable right of human dignity and citizenship.

Without health a citizen cannot work for a personal livelihood, nor, can he or she contribute to the local, state and national treasuries to ensure the social and political stability of public order at all levels.

National Volunteer Denial Of Service Campaign

While A National Day Of Civil Disobeidence would be the opening salvo in the battle for American Health Care there would probably have to be a strategic nonviolent escalation for the White and Congress to realize that Americans believe Health Care is a Freedom forgotten by the Founding Fathers.

The Second and Final Phase of National Disobedience would require the volunteer efforts of Americans and businesses in a National Denial Of Service Campaign. American businesses have always had the right to refuse service.

The Second Phase of the National Civil Disobedience Movement For Health Care simply requires businesses to deny personal and professional services to the president, the first family, the cabinent, members of their families, members of the Administration and their families, members of Congress and their families for a period of at least 30 days.

Basically, for at least 30 days, Washington D.C., policymakers and their families should be denied services for groceries, gasoline and access to medical care unless they are willing to pay excessive prices. The action would be a symbolic real world gesture to remind policymakers what it is like for an average American to be “denied basic services because of an inability to earn money to purchase products and services.”

Naturally, Washington D.C., policymakers would be ready to flock to Bethesda or Walter Reed for medical services, but the simple nuisance of lawmakers having to temporarily rearrange their schedules should be enough to remind them of the seriousness of not being able to expect an immediate response.

As for groceries and gasoline, American businesses should stand ready to treat national, state and local policymakers with the same lack of concern that average Americans face daily. Since there are no Price Controls for average Americans, then, there should not be any for policymakers. Wouldn’t it do your heart good to know a United States Senator from Missouri had to pay $10 for a carton of eggs?

Would you feel bad if a former president had to pay $20 a gallon for a tank of gas ?

The Denial Of Service Campaign to policymakers is to remind them what it is like to “Walk A Mile In An Average American’s Shoes” for a few days. The campaign should also remind them they were elected to do a job and accept the responsibility to find solutions.

The American Health Care Bullet with your name on it is in the gun . . .

Do We The People unload the gun or do we continue to allow the United States Government to repeatedly keep squeezing the trigger?

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