It’s Time

This is one of those days when I don’t have a clue about what to write. The words will come as I compose. My life was very different this week, and I wound up driving a lot of miles. The driving only woke me up to the fact that my body has changed since 2015 which is the last time I undertook a major drive of 1850 miles in one stretch. I’m not so sure I would be able to do that as well as I did back then. The last six years have been somewhat stressful on my system. Today, as I took my walk, I decided that I must undertake a vigorous training program to get into shape to take another driving trip. A few months ago, I posted my thoughts about taking one last trip around the United States by car before I hang up my driving gloves for good. Before my post was completed I decided that maybe that kind of effort has gone and left me behind. Driving around the perimeter of the USA and up and down a few times in between to cover all the points I would like to revisit added up to a bunch of miles that would take weeks, no months, to accomplish. It would be the ultimate “Burning Gas” post.

This week I kiddingly told my daughter that this kind of trip would be best taken in a sleeper van, camping along the way covering the warmer southern states in the winter months and then heading to the northern border for the summer and fall. Surprisingly, she agreed with me. Over the years, I have done this trip, mostly camping along the way, except I did it in two week stretches covering a period of twenty-five years. Ask my kids about it. A couple of them have never traveled since, and another took up discovering the world with her girlfriend. None of her trips were by car. She wised up and learned from the boring miles she spent in the back of the van as her father had to make the miles to a new destination. She learned that what took me days to cover by driving she could do in a few hours by airplane. The difference between us is that on my trips, I saw and savored every mile of the country in between destinations. She slept as she flew over the boring oceans between her destinations. I tell people that one has to experience the space of this country by driving across the Midwest. The vast flat plain between our home in Illinois and the Rocky mountains was always a bore that even I would have done differently if I could. I remember very vividly dreaming about how nice it would have been to drive our van and trailer onto a railroad flat-car and to navigate the plains by train. There actually were some services that provided such accommodations between the east coast cities and Florida, but I don’t think they exist anymore.

I stopped driving trips when I neared retirement. It was time for Barbara and me to take the easy way, we flew to dream destinations at home, in Europe, and the far east. That didn’t last very long because she became sick and died within months after I retired. To honor her memory, I took a solitary driving trip to our dreamed about winter residence. The driving alone part I vowed never to do again. During that trip I thought about all the long distance truckers who spend their lives driving their loads from a to z daily logging five to six hundred miles over and over again, living and sleeping in truck stops or the back of their tractors. I decided I could never have made a living as a truck driver.

After a couple of years of living alone I found a new partner who wouldn’t fly. So I took up driving again, and loved it. She turned out to be a very good travel buddy, never complaining about the hours, or the monotony of covering miles. We toured the western United States and Canada east to west over our ten years of good life together. We spent the last five years keeping each other company as she ever so slowly descended into the inner depths of her mind.

I have my first wife Barbara’s advice to me from her death bed embedded in my brain, “it’s time to get on with your life.”

White Picket Fence

Ever since I was a kid I have dreamed of living on a street in a small town in a white clapboard house surrounded by a white picket fence. It was probably an image I got from watching a wholesome movie like Its A Great Life, or some Mickey Rooney film. The idyllic setting appealed to me and still does. The house I grew up in was not in a small town, but in a small neighborhood in a very big city. We did not have a large enough yard for a picket fence to wrap around the front yard. We did have a picket fence separating us from the neighbors on either side. What ever it was that image has returned regularly throughout my lifetime.

Over the years I have lived in many places. Going away to college counts for many of them. After college and marriage I settled into a small village near the big city, but again the yard was not large enough to sport a white picket fence. House number two was in a tiny town out in the country and away from the big city, but that yard was too large for a picket fence and besides the homeowners association had rules stipulating no fences at all. It didn’t fit my ideal but I loved living there nonetheless. My final house is again in a neighborhood, but it is now part of the little town that house number two was in except the town is no longer small and idyllic.

One summer, I took my kids to see Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. I love that place. I could see myself living there in Colonial times. It conveys an image of a life during peacetime when people had only to concentrate on feeding and clothing their families. Most who lived in Williamsburg raised their own food, or bartered their talents for food. Each resident had a small cottage with a yard large enough to sustain themselves and to keep animals too. Some of those families were rich enough to afford a horse to pull a small wagon. They had everything, but none of it came from China, and most of it was homemade by them or their neighbors. The fences they had were necessary to separate the animals from the vegetables. Animals love fresh vegetables and keeping them side by side is risky for the city farmer.

Why is all this coming to haunt me? As I age, I long for a simple life in a very small community where everyone knows everyone, and the homes have white picket fences. Reading the book Tom Sawyer might have cemented that picture in my mind. Reading about how Tom duped his buddies into painting the white picket fence for him was one of my favorite chapters. Last week I searched the internet for towns in Illinois with small populations. There are many, but most are long distances away from my family. I seem to like towns with about two thousand people. They seem to fit my dream. The houses are mostly small, and old. The yards are large, meaning a lot of maintenance is required. None of them have picket fences probably because of the added cost and because picket fences require regular maintenance. Will I ever realize my dream? Probably not, but it is fun thinking about living in a situation where it would be a lot of fun if I were forty years old and not eighty. Why, I could raise chickens and keep a large organic vegetable garden. Think of all the energy I would expend pulling weeds and killing vegetable eating bugs and butterflies.

A few years ago, I wrote my autobiography and one of the chapters was titled “City Farm.” I described the way my Mom kept a garden that covered every square inch of the available yard. She had chickens, raised vegetables, fruit, and also a myriad of flowers at the same time. The lady never sat still. While she was doing all that garden stuff I was able to get lost on the block and play with my buddies. Ahh for the good old days.

Now it is wine time!

I Am One of These

Special Group / Born Between 1930 – 1946. Today, they range in ages from 75 to 90.  Are you or do you know someone “still here”? 

Classy Chassis

  Some interesting Facts for you. 

  You are the smallest group ofchildren, born since the early 1900s. 

    You are the last generation, climbing out of the depression, who can remember the winds of war and the impact of a world at war which rattled the structure of our daily lives for years. 

    You are the last to remember ration books for everything from gasto sugar to shoes to stoves.

     You saved tin foil and poured fat into tin cans. 

  You saw cars up on blocks because tires weren’t available.

   You can remember milk being delivered to your house early in themorning and placed in the “milk box” on the porch.

   You are the last to see the gold stars in the front windows ofgrieving neighbors whose sons died in the War.

    You saw the ‘boys’ home from the war, build their little houses.

   You are the last generation who spent childhood without television;instead, you imagined what you heard on the radio. 

  With no TV until the 50’s, you spent your childhood “playing outside”. 

  There was no little league.

  There was no city playground for kids.

       The lack of television in your early years meant, that you had little real understanding of what the world was like.

     On Saturday afternoons, the movies gave you newsreels sandwiched in between westerns and cartoons.

     Telephones were one to a house, often shared (party lines) andhung on the wall in the kitchen (no cares about privacy). 

    Computers were called calculators; they were hand cranked.

     Typewriters were driven by pounding fingers, throwing the carriageand changing the ribbon.

     INTERNET’ and ‘GOOGLE’ were words that did not exist. 

      Newspapers and magazines were written for adults and the news was broadcast on your radio in the evening.

  As you grew up, the country was exploding with growth. 

    The Government gave returning Veterans the means to get an education and spurred colleges to grow.

  Loans fanned a housing boom.

Pent up demand coupled with new instalment payment plans opened manyfactories for work.

     New highways would bring jobs and mobility.

SUV’s Chevrolet Suburban Generations

  The Veterans joined civic clubs and became active in politics.

     The radio network expanded from 3 stations to thousands. 

    Your parents were suddenly free from the confines of the depression and the war, and they threw themselves into exploring opportunities they had never imagined.

    You weren’t neglected, but you weren’t today’s all-consumingfamily focus.

  They were glad you played by yourselves until the street lights came on.

They were busy discovering the post war world.

     You entered a world of overflowing plenty and opportunity; a worldwhere you were welcomed, enjoyed yourselves and felt secure in your future though depression poverty was deeply remembered.

   Polio was still a crippler.

   You came of age in the 50s and 60s.

  You are the last generation to experience an interlude when there were no threats to our homeland.

The second world war was over and the cold war, terrorism, global warming, and perpetual economic insecurity had yet to haunt life with unease.

     Only your generation can remember both a time of great war, and a time when our world was secure and full of bright promise and plenty.

You grew up at the best possible time, a time when the world wasgetting better…

   You are “The Last Ones.”  More than 99 % of you are either retired or deceased, and you feel privileged to have “lived in the best of times!”

The Shot That Set Me Free

A week ago I received an email message stating that my long awaited appointment for getting vaccinated has arrived. I jumped at the opportunity. The last time I had a problem with a virus was in 1957, and there was no opportunity to be vaccinated. The polio virus had already been ravaging the world for some twenty years and it wasn’t ready to stop. All the public announcements advised us to stay away from crowds, (define a crowd) don’t go to the beach, rest, etc. None of the advice seemed worthy of taking. I did stay away from crowds unless one calls my group of buddies (5) a crowd. I never went to the beach it was ten miles away. I thought I rested as does anyone who sleeps at night and I still got the virus. Maybe I it got from going to church, yes that has to be it. The problem with that argument is that my buddies all went to church too. None of my crowd got polio but me.

It was a good five years before Dr. Jonas Salk invented a vaccine that worked. I never did follow the news to follow the progress of how the world became vaccinated, my immune system was fixed for life. Luckily, I survived and did not carry too many debilitating side effects. When the COVID-19 pandemic began I followed Dr. Fauci’s recommendations to a point. The point was that I would not allow myself to get overly excited about catching the thing and that I would let my own common sense rule my activity.

My appointment was set for 10:15 on a Friday at the Joliet West High School which is about thirty miles away. I set my alarm to get up early, showered and prepared a decent KETO breakfast so I wouldn’t pass out from a low blood sugar. What impressed me was the system that Will County had set up at the school. First of all, let me say that this school is a state of the art machine. Except for being thirty miles from Frankfort, I felt like I was inside Lincoln Way East High School two miles from my house. The staff consisted of Joliet Fire Department EMT’s. There was ample parking at door fourteen and upon arriving I checked in at a desk where a man pointed a thermometer at me head and took my temperature. He fired off a bunch of questions about how I felt and then handed me a short questionnaire asking questions like are you allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. To me that is the dumbest question ever. How in the heck am I supposed to know what is in this vaccine? There was one question that I had to answer yes to, I am allergic to penicillin and had an anaphylaxis reaction to it. With that yes, I got to take that piece of paper with me to the vaccination table. There were ten tables lined up with a strapping young man directing people to the next available technician. He directed me to table ten. I walked to the table where another young man was waiting. I handed him my paper, and proceeded to bare my left arm. “Forgive me if I don’t watch this happen.” There is something about seeing a needle pierce my body that makes me squeamish. He followed with “you won’t feel a thing,” and with that he was placing a piece of tape on the injection site. Not only didn’t I feel anything I felt it was a sham and that I didn’t really get vaccinated. Another big guy handed me a card and told me to carry it with me. It was a record of the vaccine. He also told me that he scheduled my second shot to take place four weeks from the day at the same place. “Go to the other side of the field house and sit for fifteen minutes then you can leave.”

I sat for twenty minutes waiting for something to happen, but nothing did. I walked out but ran into another young guy about six foot tall and all muscle who asked me how I felt. “Okay,” I answered.

“Good, you can leave out the door you came in by.”

I felt exhilarated, happy, loose, I wanted to jump up and kick my heels together. I made it through the year without catching the demon COVID.

I was so relaxed that when I got home, I took a nap.

The following two days I kept feeling all kinds of tingles and tickles and asked myself “is that a side effect?” If they were side effects they were acceptable and very mild. I concluded they were not side effects but my mind playing tricks on me.

Last night I attended a meeting of my senior friends. This meeting has been going on for over five years on a weekly basis. We meet, drink wine and shoot the breeze. It is such a good time we won’t give it up, but we have not met since the last spike of COVID hit in October. Everyone of us was happy to see each other again. To date, only three of us have gotten the vaccination, but more will be getting it soon. That is, if our governor would get off his fat ass and push for it to get done. Illinois is number 47 out of the states in progress toward vaccinating it’s population. At least we aren’t in the bottom three.

Happy days are here again.

A Time To Remember; My Time

A Special Group – Born Between 1930 to 1945

   Interesting Facts: If you were born in the 1930s to 1945, you exist as a very special age group.

You are the smallest group of children born since the early 1900s.

You are the last generation, climbing out of the depression, who can remember the winds of war and the impact of a world at war which rattled the structure of our daily lives for years.

You are the last to remember ration books for everything from gas to sugar to shoes to stoves.

You saved tin foil and poured fat into tin cans.

You saw cars up on blocks because tires weren’t available.

You can remember milk being delivered to your house early in the morning and placed in the “milk box” on the porch.

You are the last to see the gold stars in the front windows of grieving neighbors whose sons died in the War.

You saw the ‘boys’ home from the war, build their little houses.

4.2.7

You are the last generation who spent childhood without television; instead, you imagined what you heard on the radio.

With no TV, you spent your childhood “playing outside”

There was no little league.

There was no city playground for kids.

The lack of television in your early years meant, that you had

little real understanding of what the world was like.

On Saturday afternoons, the movies gave you newsreels sandwiched in between westerns and cartoons.

Telephones were one to a house, often shared (party lines) and hung on the wall in the kitchen (no cares about privacy).

Computers were called calculators; they were hand cranked; typewriters were driven by pounding fingers, throwing the carriage, and changing the ribbon.

The ‘INTERNET’ and ‘GOOGLE’ were words that did not exist.

Newspapers and magazines were written for adults and the news was broadcast on your radio in the evening by Gabriel Heatter and later Paul Harvey.

As you grew up, the country was exploding with growth.

The G.I. Bill gave returning Veterans the means to get an education and spurred colleges to grow.

VA loans fanned a housing boom.

Pent up demand coupled with new installment payment plans opened many factories for work.

New highways would bring jobs and mobility.

The Veterans joined civic clubs and became active in politics.

The radio network expanded from 3 stations to thousands.

Your parents were suddenly free from the confines of the depression and the war, and they threw themselves into exploring opportunities they had never imagined.

You weren’t neglected, but you weren’t today’s all-consuming family focus.

They were glad you played by yourselves until the street lights came on.

They were busy discovering the post war world.

You entered a world of overflowing plenty and opportunity; a world where you were welcomed, enjoyed yourselves and felt secure in your future though depression poverty was deeply remembered.

Polio was still a crippler.

You came of age in the 50s and 60s.

The Korean War was a dark passage in the early 50s and by mid-decade school children were ducking under desks for Air-Raid training.

Castro in Cuba and Khrushchev came to power.

You are the last generation to experience an interlude when there were no threats to our homeland. The war was over and the cold war, terrorism, “global warming,” and perpetual economic insecurity had yet to haunt life with unease.

Only your generation can remember both a time of great war, and a time when our world was secure and full of bright promise and plenty.

You grew up at the best possible time, a time when the world was getting better…

     You are “The Last Ones.” More than 99 % of you are either retired or deceased, and you feel privileged to have “lived in the best of times!!!”

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