Tweak the Wreck to Make it Work

Awhile back, another Progressive Liberal President spoke to the Democrat controlled Congress and told them to pass a universal health care law. Pass it no matter how bad it is, you can always fix it later. In his State of the Union Speech. President Obama was very direct when he said he would not undo Obama care, but he would entertain fixing some of the objectionable parts of it. He also remade a statement that he would listen to any ideas proposed by those opposed. Really?

If President Obama thinks he can fix the clunker he invented by tweaking it, he is a danger to himself and should be committed. Perhaps we are wrong and he really is the second coming of Christ. Excuse me, Christ is not politically correct as the One who can make miracles. Maybe he is the second coming of Allah.

The only way to fix this clunker is to send it to the shredder fast. After it is on its way to Progressive heaven he can entertain some real free market solutions that will work.

I’m afraid that sitting in the front row at Trinity United Church for twenty years of listening to the tenets of Black Liberation Theology has brainwashed him into believing that Marxist solutions work. Meanwhile Marxist countries have rejected the philosophy in favor of freedom and capitalism. China pretends to be Marxist, but is gleefully embracing capitalism to save its population from starvation. Russia has also embraced capitalism and personal freedom. It is quickly becoming an economic powerhouse. That leaves President Obama with North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela as the model for the twenty-first century Marxist utopia.

I don’t buy Marxism, Socialism, Liberalism, or Progressivism because they all take away man’s God-given right to liberty and the pursuit to happiness in favor of  all men being treated equal at the expense of liberty, free will, and the freedom to  realize his human potential.

By the way, the other President that gave BO the invaluable advice to pass anything then fix it later was none other than Bill Clinton. I can hardly wait for a scandal to break out with BO and a liberal cutie in the Oval office.

If you think my view of BO as a Marxist  is off base read the link below that will take you to Obama’s ‘Missing Link.’

Frankfort Chili Cookoff

Today, I walked into town around noon. That is much later in the day than usual. The sky was a weary gray, the temperature in the thirties, and a wind blowing from the North. I was glad to reach town so I could relieve my morning coffee at the Trolley Barn.  Usually, these walks are solitary. I don’t see anyone, and there are only a few cars on the roads. Today, as I entered town there was activity everywhere. One look at the Breidert Green, and I remembered that Winter on the Green was sponsoring a Chili Cook Off today.

The Breidert Green is named for Burton Breidert, a long time resident now deceased, who owned the B & L lumber yard, which became Fox Lumber, and is now My Sisters and Me, a dress shop.  I never met Burton because he was dead before I moved to town twenty years ago. I learned of him during my research for the Lions Club. He was a prominent Lion and generous community  member. He is credited with the town plan and insistence on keeping the business community central rather than spread around. At least a portion of his fortune came from supplying the building material used to construct the Prestwick sub-division. I lived in Prestwick for fifteen years, there is a minimum of four hundred houses there. Not one of them is small. That’s a whole lot of lumber to sell.

The Green is now a community park which is used for many functions. During January, it is Winter on the Green.

The place was jumping today. The focal point is a structure referred to as the Frankfort Station. It is on the spot that a real railroad station existed many years ago when a real train ran through town on what is now the Old Plank Road Trail. The trail borders the Frankfort Station. The Station is a source of electricity and it was supplying the chili cooks. There were a number of amateur and serious cooks vying for bragging rights to their chili.

The public is invited to attend and eat chili on this day, but I was a half hour too early to try any. Based on the crowd that was already there, it promised to be a succesful event.

I took pictures and went about my walk. I did finally stop at the Trolley Barn to relieve myself. The Trolley Barn was jumping too. The guitar shop was loaded with students learning how to play, the Children’s Museum was crawling with kids, the Deli was busy with a lunch crowd, and the upstairs coffee shop and book store was busy too. The Barn got its name from the building itself. It was used for maintaining diesel-electric railroad cars back in the nineteen-twenties and thirties era. During that time a commuter line ran between East Chicago and Joliet, It played a key role in transporting people from town to town in the far south suburbs. The building remained empty for years until an entrepreneur bought it and converted it into a mall for small businesses.   The Trolley Barn replaces the Grainery Building which was a major tourist attraction. The post and beam building burned to the ground in the nineteen seventies.

Frankfort is a great town established in eighteen fifty. It retains the charm of that era while it grows into a major modern suburb with a thriving population of sixteen thousand people.

The Chamber of Commerce does an outstanding job in keeping the character of the business area thriving while maintaining the character and history fo the town.

Next Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday, and most of us will be watching the interview between our president and Bill O’Reilly while the festivities on the Green take place. The following week  a Turkey Bowl  is the final event in the series.

Here are some photos from the Chili Cook Off.

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A Snowy Day in the Movie House

West facade of Buckingham Palace, seen from th...

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Yesterday, I tried something new. I bought a movie ticket online. The temptation was too great. I had to do it. How lazy can one get? Grandma Peggy and I reviewed the list of films showing in our favorite movie house and chose one to see. There are several good ones, and we chose The King’s Speech. We had flashbacks of the last time we went to the movies, and the film we wanted was sold out. This time it would be different, I would buy the ticket online and be assured of a seat.

Before I review the story, I’ll review the online purchase. Being a senior, I chose the Senior five dollar ticket. I clicked “Buy Ticket,” and learned that there was a dollar fifty cent convenience charge for the transaction. I went for it anyway. Then I printed the confirmation to learn that when I showed up, I would have to present the confirmation at a special window, and to bring my credit card with me. I will escape the long line at the ticket counter, I thought to myself. It is worth the extra money Like a jerk, I bought into the process. The weather was mild, and gray, but right after I printed the confirmation it began to snow.

We went about our morning and the snow fell harder. Grandma Peggy says, “we don’t have to go to the show in this bad weather, we can go tomorrow.”

“Oh yes we do,” I answered, “I have twelve bucks invested in non-refundable tickets.”

So we drove through a blinding snowfall to the movie. There was no one at the ticket window when I showed my confirmation. They gave me two tickets and we entered a ghost theater: we had the entire place to ourselves.

The King’s Speech was produced in England. The actors are all British and foreign to me. The story  is a little known piece of history about the man who ascended to the throne when his brother abdicated to  marry the love of his life. The man is the current Queen Elizabeth’s father. He was known as George the VI even though his name was Albert.

When I first read the synopsis of the film, I thought how boring is this going to be. It’s all about a guy with a speech impediment. The whole thing will be dialogue without action. I was correct, but it was not in the least bit boring. In fact, we were rivited to the seat. I don’t even recall any background music. The silence gave the story some character, and it made it easy for my state of the art electronic amplified ears to pick up the dialogue.

The staging was fabulous. The director made me feel like I was living in nineteen thirty four England. There is one scene where the elecution teacher enters Buckingham Palace by the servants entrance and they pass through a room that was lined with gas masks. In another scene the main character is asked who brought him up. He replied “a nanny.” Then proceeded to explain that the nanny  pinched him hard every day just as she took him for the viewing before his parents. That line stuck with me, as did the image of the gas masks.

The actors looked like the characters. I can still remember  seeing photos of Edward, the brother who abdicated, and his wife Wallace Simpson in newspaper articles. The queen mother is the spitting image of the Queen Elizabeth’s mother. The only one whom I didn’t recognize is the central character, her  father.

During one outdoor scene the King and his teacher walk through the park in front of the Palace. It is shrouded in fog. The picture is surreal. I recognized that garden from a visit I made to that park twenty years ago.  It is beautiful, even in a heavy fog when everything is gray.

Another landmark, I recognized is Westminster Abbey. There are scenes in the Abbey with the Archbishop. The Archbishop is a classic example of British snobbery and distaste for  the  commoner. It reminded me of  the attitude that prevails within our own society today within our Liberal Left political contingent.

The story ended too quickly, and we were left wanting to know more about this fascinating King. We were left with questions about the remainder of his life. I will have read  a book about his life to learn more.

It is easy to understand why this film has twelve nominations for the Academy Award. It is a strong contender.


Jack kept dreaming about racing in the Soap-Box Derby. His vision of that racer in the Popular Mechanics magazine stayed in his mind. This summer the dream got stronger.

“I’ll make the best car yet,” he said to his friend Rich. “My first car was a two by four with two axles and a board for a seat.”

“I remember that one, we had tons of fun pushing each other around the alley.”

“The next one had a backrest and a square hood.”

“Yeah, that year I built a car too. That is when the real fun began,” said Rich.

“Yeah, racing in the alley with our sisters pushing us.”

“They didn’t push very fast,” answered Jack. “The races got faster after we recruited Joe, and Bob as pushers. My new car will be the best one yet.”

Jack used his father’s handsaw, hacksaw, files, pliers, hammer, and brace. He wished he could use the tools at the wood shop in Tuley Park, but it was too far from home.

“Dad, can you help me make the axles?”

“What do you want?”

“My wagon axles always bend, and the wheels fall off.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

Two weeks later Dad came home with a pair of killer axles. A machinist friend in the shop helped to make them. He used square stock, and cut a spindle with a thread on each end for the wheels. He cross-drilled a hole for a cotter pin to keep the nuts from spinning off.

“I would have been happy with the axles alone, but Dad fit the axle into a heavy oak board. That will make it easier to mount them to the frame. My second big problem is wheel failure. The rubber tread falls off, or the hub breaks. Sometimes, a wheel falls off, and the bearings spill into the dirt.  With these new axles, I can use my best wagon wheels with the roller bearings.”

Jack and his buddies set up a racetrack in the alley.

“We can start at my garage and race around the bend to the sidewalk. Rich and I will drive first, then take a turn at pushing back.” The first team to complete the route wins.”

They were off. The two cars lunged forward and got through the turn at the same time.

“Push faster,” shouted Jack to his pusher Bob. They got to the sidewalk first. Jack jumped out.

“Get in,” he shouted to Bob. They traded places, and Jack pushed as hard as he could.

“I should slow down at the turn,” he said, “but they are right on my tail.” He pushed harder. Bob steered to the outside to go faster. Jack saw the wheels drifting into a slide, throwing up dirt.

“Oh no!” he shouted as the rear tire came off the wheel. Jack stopped to fix it before the wheel was damaged. Joe and Rich passed by and won the race.

The turn in the middle was hard on the wheels. The cars slid through the turn, and kicked up loose cinders forming a groove in the turn. The wheels always broke at that turn.

“When a wheel breaks the race is over for me. Sometimes, I can fix it by rolling the tire back onto the rim. When a spoke or a hub breaks, I need a new wheel.”

Jack began building a new car to put his new axles on. “I will use the wheels off the Radio Flyer.

He dug up the plan from Popular Mechanics, and began looking for materials in the alley.

“WOW, this is my lucky day. This piece of corrugated aluminum is just what I need for the body.” He found it behind the grocery store.

“I’ll cut this sheet into two pieces. One for the hood and one for the trunk.”

It took hours to go through such a large piece with the hacksaw. His arms ached and sweat rolled off his forehead. The longest piece became the hood; the remainder formed the tailpiece behind the seat.  Corrugated metal is easy to bend along the grooves, but very hard to bend the other way. It limited any fancy curving Jack could do when he formed the body. In his mind he pictured an Indy-Sprint car.

“The plan calls for pulleys and rope to make the steering. I’ll have to use the money I have saved to buy them.” Jack walked a mile to the hardware store on Cottage Grove Avenue to buy pulleys and a new clothesline. He worked hard to install the pulleys in the right places under the hood. He kept looking at the plan in the magazine. Eventually, he figured it out, and the car had a steering wheel that worked.  The days of holding ropes, or steering with the feet were over.

“I’ll never need the brake, but the plan shows one.” He made a drag brake.

Jack’s dream car became a reality. He painted the body canary yellow.

“Racecars have numbers. I’ll give my car a number too, but what?” It took days to come up with a number that meant something to him. When he finally decided on it, he bought a can of Chinese red paint. It was the brightest color he could find.

“What are you doing Jack?”

“What does it look like? I’m painting a number on the car.” He brushed red paint carefully between pencil lines on the hood.

“Why did you pick number Ninety-three?”

“It stands for 93rd Street where we live, dummy.” More people asked him about the number than how the steering worked.

Number-93 was faithful for the remainder of the season.  The wheels never fell off the axles and the hubs stayed in place.  She did well in the alley races, and became the envy of the neighborhood.

“I’m going to the library Mom,” he said. He took a short cut through the schoolyard at Perry School when he stopped dead.

“I don’t believe my eyes,” he said to himself. “The perfect hill for number ninety-three. They took the slide off the wooden ramp. I can pull the car up to the top and race it down, just like they do at the real Soap Box Derby.”

Perry School is only three blocks away from home. They took the giant steel slide off the wooden ramp. The ramp was twenty feet high It sloped at thirty degrees, and was wide enough for Number-93 to roll down. It was the perfect hill to try her out.

Jack began visioning his big adventure.

“I’ll Rich to help me tow 93 to the schoolyard. We’ll do it after school when there are not as many kids around.”

A couple of days later 93 was up to the ramp.

“We’ll move her up backwards so we don’t have to turn around at the top.”

Jack pulled and Rich pushed. Moving the heavy 93 to the top was hard.

“Are you ready?” asked Rich.

“Yep.”  Rich held the car back as Jack climbed in and settled into the seat with his feet pressing against the footrest. He pushed until his back was firm against the backrest. Jack tried the steering. He held pressure on the the brake to keep from moving forward. Everything was okay.

“Let go on the count of three,” said Jack.

They counted together, “one, —two, — three.”

Rich let go, and Jack released the brake. Ninety-three began to move slowly. Within a few feet the speed was thrilling. Jack’s heart began pounding out of his chest. He tucked his head down out of the wind, and held onto the wheel tightly while bracing his feet against the firewall. The brake was between his legs, but he was too afraid to take a hand off the wheel to make it work.

“I’m really rolling now he shouted.” The noise of the wheels clacking against the wooden planks drowned out his voice. The wind rushed over the dashboard into his eyes. I have to keep her straight, he thought. Ninety-three picked up more speed. The ride down was a thrilling rush. Jack’s eyes watered, his head shook from the vibration of the bumpy boards. In an instant, number ninety-three was at the bottom. She hit the transition with a big bump and leveled off. Everything was a blur when Jack hit top speed. Jack enjoyed a smooth ride half way across the yard. Eventually he coasted to a stop.

Rich came running up next to him, “How was it?”

“Wow, my legs are shaking. That was fun. Now it is your turn”

“Not me, that looked scary.”



Lazy Summer Days Spent Lolling On Custom Lawn Furniture

This post is excerpted from “Jun-e-or” a book of my “Recollections of Life in the 1940’s and 50’s,” available from


There is something about winter that sets me into recalling times from the past. In early 2010 I posted several stories about my Grampa Jim.  This year, I will do the same. Here is the first of a series.


Lazy Summer Days Spent Lolling On Custom Lawn Furniture

Every summer, Dad packed us up and took us to the farm in Michigan to live with Mom’s dad Grampa. That twenty-acre spread like seemed a vast wilderness at the time. Gramps’s house was set back from the road and trees lined each side of the drive giving the feel of going through a tunnel. Three tall cedar trees stood in a row with two pear trees next to the ditch. They hid the house from the road.

The front door faced the road, and served to let a breeze flow through the house. Gramps never did finish building the front steps. The main entrance was from the side door facing the yard at the end of the drive. A huge willow tree, opposite the living room window, filled the side yard with shade. The weeping boughs nearly touched the ground, and my arms reached less than half way around its trunk. A few feet away stood a very mature mulberry tree that appeared tiny next to the willow

In early summer, the birds came to eat mulberries.  I climbed the low branches and sat in the tree with them. Mom knew what I was doing because my lips and hands were purple. The low branches were easy to climb, not like the tall willow whose first branch was many feet above my head. Dad used a ladder to climb up to that branch to make us a swing from a recycled tire from his 1929 Buick

The outhouse stood across the yard from the mulberry. Grampa Jim didn’t have running water, nor a bathtub or toilet. The outhouse was the third point on a trapezoidal yard formed by the side door, and the two trees.

Grampa Jim had a unique set of lawn furniture sliced from the trunk of a huge tree.  The Table was twenty-four inches in diameter, and just as tall.  The chairs were slightly smaller in diameter and were cut to form a seat with a backrest. The set was old, and gray with no signs of bark on the wood.

I spent endless hours playing on, and around that furniture. Sometimes, I sat on a chair and watched the big black ants run crazy patterns all over the table. Often, I tried counting the rings, but got lost in the weathered and worn grooves of the cut surface.

On the very hot listless days of summer, Grampa Jim, and his buddy Mr. Toth sat on the tree furniture in the shade drinking a beer. They chatted and smoked; Grampa dragged a hand rolled cigarette of Bull Durham while his friend puffed a corncob pipe filled with Prince Albert. Often, I sat with them and listened. They spoke in Hungarian, and I did not recognize many of their words, but I understood the gist of their thoughts.

I wondered then, and I still do now, if the table and chairs all came from one tree.  If they did, the tree had to be magnificent. I asked myself, how tall was that tree? How old was it? Why was it cut down? Did it fall down, or did it die of natural causes? All I know is that I loved sitting and playing on that furniture.