Simple Acts Of Kindness

This barber, who offers haircuts for the price of a single hug.

The man who gave the shoes off his feet to this homeless girl.eac5115a-2e3f-43a1-b496-102b2a0e39fe.jpg

This Motorcyclist who stopped to help an old woman pass safely

Consolation knows no color186b705e-c599-496a-ba07-80b0802bb710.jpg

The police officer who handcuffed himself to a woman to make sure she knew she’d have to take him with her

The many people who helped make this boy’s dream come true.

This dog owner who mourned by giving.

This store employee who gives extra service.

The person who decided to put new tires on a stranger’s car just because he needed it.

The crowd who decided a fan should be able to watch the show, no matter what.

This dry cleaning place that helps the unemployed for free.

These kids helping an injured member of their rival team to score.

The man who played for fun and gave his winnings away.

This man who missed this train helping this older lady with her bags.

This man who gave something to a homeless man no one gives something to occupy his mind.

And Dan, a man who twice a week buys coffee for every patient, nurse, and doctor at local cancer centers.

The people at the animal hospital, knowing how hard it is to say goodbye.

This man who gave his umbrella away so this cat could have a dry night.

“Kindness lasts forever!”

Santa Is Missing. (A Story)

Santa is Missing is a children’s book. It is short, and easy to read. I am presenting it to you as my gift. The story is very adult like in composition since the view-point changes every chapter. Children twelve and older will have no trouble reading it by themselves. Kids younger than twelve may  need it be read to them.

There are a few characters I should identify:

1. Morty Angel is  Guardian Angel assigned to Ben

2. Ben is a boy of ten who is watched over by Morty Angel

3. Jasper is a Lead Elf who works for Santa

4. Gabriel is the Archangel working in Heaven as God’s assistant

5. Sentra-vision, a special belt worn by Morty. It is a communication device used to call heaven.

6. Sky-scooter, a special flying scooter given to Morty by friends. Since he cannot fly like other angels he needs the Sky-scooter to travel. It has amazing properties.

7. Polly is a polar bear, a friend of Morty’s

8. Major Joe ‘Do-Do’ Taylor is an Air Force pilot at Elmendorf Air Base.

There are ten chapters and I will present one chapter every day or two until the story is complete. There are cartoon pictures scattered throughout the story. The cartoons are originals done by Grumpa Joe.

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Santa is Missing

by

Grumpa Joe

Chapter One-God Calls

Morty sat invisible on Ben’s shoulder. He watched the snow falling gently. Ben listened to Miss Brown. The temperature dropped since they got to school this morning. Ben looked out the window and wished he could be playing in it.  Miss Brown went over math sets. There were two more days before school let out for the Christmas holiday.

Morty’s head bobbed with sleep when his wings fluttered. He jumped to attention as his wings fluttered again. “God is paging me,” he said to himself. Morty raised the end of his Sentra-vision belt to his eye. He saw Gabriel sitting at the desk outside God’s office. He squeezed the belt to signal that he was ready to receive. Gabriel pushed a button on his console and God appeared. Morty watched and listened carefully.

“Santa is in trouble. I want you to help him. It is only a few days until my Son’s birthday celebration. I don’t want Christmas to be spoiled because Santa can’t make it on time. Leave immediately.”

The bell rang just as God finished the message. School was over for the day.

Ben rushed to get his boots and coat.  He ran out of school with his Guardian Angel hanging onto his sleeve.

“I want to be first in the new snow, he whispered to Morty.”

Ben jumped into the deep new snow, and fell backwards. He swept his arms above his head and spread his legs apart.

“Look, Morty, I’m making an angel.”

That’s when Morty became visible and told  Ben to get ready. “We have to go rescue Santa.”

“What?”

“We have to go rescue Santa, God just told me to go help him. Come on, get onto the sky scooter.”

“But, but, but . . . my parents will wonder where I am.”

“Don’t worry. God will send an angel to let them know that you are okay. Now, let’s go, Santa needs us.”

Ben climbed on and wrapped his arms around his guardian angel. Morty set the navigator for the North Pole, then pushed the thrust button. They were out of sight in an instant.

To be continued…

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MORTY ANGEL AND BEN HAVE BEEN ORDERED TO LOOK FOR SANTA WHO WAS REPORTED MISSING.

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Chapter Two-Where is He?

Santa is never late said Mrs. Claus to herself. She paced back and forth wondering where he was.

“He has never been late before,”  she explained to Gabriel over the Angel Network.  “He left at 8:00 p.m. last night for a training ride with Rudolph and the  first team. On a regular day, he is back by midnight. It is  3:00 a.m. and he is still gone. I sent the elves to look for him.”

“Santa keeps a strict training schedule. They have to be in perfect shape to be able to deliver all the gifts. They fly fast, stop on a roof, then start-up fast again. They pull all the presents, and Santa is not a light weight. I keep him on a diet, but poor Santa never loses a pound,” said Mrs. Claus.

The elves were still very busy making toys and wrapping presents. They used Santa’s computer to know how many toys to make. Before Christmas, Santa visits children all around the world to ask them if they were bad or good. If they answer “good,” he asks them what they want for Christmas. Each kid gives him a list of toys. Of course, Santa already knows if they were bad or good because he has Sentra-vision like the angels. He keeps a record of all the good deeds and all the bad things that a kid does on his computer.

Elf-Jasper was charting Santa’s route and connecting each gift to a child’s house. He was ready to download the chart into the tracking system on the sleigh when Mrs. Claus asked him to look for Santa.

Jasper ordered his elves to hitch the back-up team to the red sleigh. They left to search all of Santa’s training routes, but it was snowing so hard and they could not see anything.

To be continued…

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Ben and Morty Angel are rushing to the North Pole to Find Santa aboard Sky-scooter.

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Chapter Three-Rescue Plan

Ben and Morty hung onto the scooter as it sped to Santa Claus Village near the North Pole. Morty used his Sentra-vision belt to get information about the mission. He learned that Santa was missing on a training mission, and the elves could not find him in the snowstorm. Morty wondered how he was going to find Santa.

Ben must have read his mind.

“Morty, why don’t you send a message to all of the animals in the world to look for Santa.”

“Great idea,” Morty shouted over his shoulder. They were traveling so fast the noise from the wind and snow made it hard to hear.

The Scooter, automatically began to slow down and lose altitude. The voyage to Santa’s Village was nearly over. Morty called Jasper to ask for help.

“Jasper, please contact Gabriel. Tell him to spread the word to the animal kingdom. Have them report all suspicious activity.

“Make a special call to the wolves to search for the reindeer with their noses. They have a keen sense of smell and can tell when an animal is hurt. If the reindeer are injured, the wolves will find them,” said Ben.

“Fantastic idea,” said Morty. “Did you copy that Jasper?”

“Ten four,” answered Jasper, “I did.”

Jasper locked Sky-scooter onto the landing beam. Then, he relayed the message to Gabriel.

To be continued…

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Morty and Ben begin the plan to find Santa as they fly to the North Pole.

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Chapter Four-Roll Call

High on a Mount Denali glacier, deep in a dark crevasse, Santa crawled out from under the green sleigh. He checked himself for broken bones and brushed snow off his suit. He started a roll call.

“Rudolph.”

“Here.”

“Donner”

“Here,” answered Donner weakly.

“Blitzen.”

“I’m here,” he said, “My antlers are tangled in the runner.”

“Dasher.”

“Here, but my leg is broken.”

“Prancer.”

“I’m here, scrapped and bleeding.”

“Comet,— Comet, does anyone see Comet?” asked Santa.

“I can feel him,” said Cupid, “He’s out cold.”

“How about Dancer and Vixen?”

“We are okay,” they answered in unison.

“Donner, please help Comet.”

“Dancer, Vixen, see if you can help Prancer.”

“Rudolph, turn your nose on.”

“Oh great, my light doesn’t work, now what do we do?”

“Try harder,” said Santa, “we need that light.”

“How will we find our way home without your light?”

“Why did we crash?” Asked Cupid.

“Something exploded right next to us,” answered Rudolph, “the shock forced me into a downward spin, then my light went out. We broke through the clouds, and saw the mountain, but it was too late. We landed fast, and slid into this crevasse.”

“Comet is waking up,” said Prancer.

“Where am I?”

“We crashed into a crevasse,” answered Prancer.

“Let’s put our heads together and see how we are going to get home,” said Santa.

“Does the  Sentra-vision work?” asked Rudolph. “We can call Jasper. He can  find where our signal is coming from.”

“I checked it before, it doesn’t work either,” said Santa, “See if you can repair it.”

“Blitzen, splint Dasher’s leg. Dancer and Cupid, explore the crevasse in that direction. see if we can climb out of here.”

“Donner and Vixen, explore the opposite direction. I’ll help Rudolph with the Sentra-vision.”

To be continued…

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SANTA CRASHED INTO A GLACIER ON MOUNT DENALI AND IS LOOKING FOR A WAY TO GET OUT.

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Chapter Five-Under Attack

Sergeant John Jacobs watched the radar at Fort Greeley missile base. Sargeant John served at on the far edge of Alaska. Everything appeared normal until eleven o’clock. At eleven the screen started flashing, and the horn sounded. John nearly jumped out of his seat. A strange blip headed toward North America at very high speed. He knew what all the other blips on the screen were, but this one behaved different.

Could it be a missile coming in? He checked the equipment. Everything was normal. The blip kept coming. John picked up the red phone and dialed Elmendorf Air Force Base.

“Major, we have a red alert coming at us from the west. All the equipment checks out; it is the real thing.”

“I’ll be there in a flash.” Major General Holmes was at home decorating his Christmas tree when the Sergeant called.

“I’m sorry kids, it’s an emergency I have to go.”

Minutes later, Major Holmes saw the blip on the radar screen himself. The object was near the coast line now.

“Scramble the tactical unit,” he ordered.

“Yes sir.”

Elmendorf confirmed the unidentified object approaching U.S. airspace. It was too fast to be an airplane.  It had to be a missile. Three F16 jets sped toward the blip.

“It looks like we’ll intercept it over Denali,” Radioed Major ‘Do-Do’ Taylor.

On this evening Santa took the team to Siberia. He was returning to the North Pole from the extended training flight. The reindeer were at peak condition. Rudolph and the team were feeling good. Santa knew they were ready for Christmas Eve. They would deliver presents to good kids all around the world.

The team was excited. It felt good to fly fast. They loved speed. Santa was anxious to get home early. He and Mrs. Claus still had gifts to wrap for the elves. Mrs. Claus knitted new caps and socks for them.

The F-16‘s approached Denali, the highest peak in North America. A heavy cover of clouds hid the mountain, and the pilots flew by radar. Major Do-Do spotted the object on his radar.  It flew under the clouds. Most of the time the jets flew above the clouds where the the pilots could see the stars and the moon. This flight was different.

Major Do-Do used pilot nicknames to talk to his wingmen.

“Crackers, do you have anything on your radar?”

“Yes I see something that is flying a crazy pattern.”

“I see it too,” said Dogface.

“The orders are to make contact with the object and determine if it is a missile, turn on your after burners,” ordered Do Do, “Let’s catch it.”

All three jets sped up to sixteen hundred miles per hour and broke the sound barrier with a loud bang.

“Did you hear that?” shouted Santa.

“Yes,” they sang in unison, “What was it?”

“I don’t know,” answered Santa “Maybe it is the ice cracking on the glacier below.” Just then, Santa let the reindeer have some fun. He flipped the reins gently, signaling them to go faster. The sleigh jumped forward. The team loved going fast, the faster the better. Even at this high speed they were barely breathing hard. They could go even faster if Santa asked them to.

“Get ready to practice a high speed landing,” said Santa.

“Okay,” responded Rudolph, “Let’s have some fun.” Neither Santa nor the reindeer had any idea that they were being chased by the jets.

Just as Santa gave Rudolph the signal to speed up, Major Do Do received orders to shoot. He fired a missile without knowing that he was shooting at Santa. The rocket was just a few yards behind the sleigh when the team kicked into high gear, and shot forward. They flew faster than the missile. Santa signaled the landing maneuver. Rudolph turned them into a sharp upward loop. The team was at the top of their loop, flying upside down, when the rocket exploded. It blew up just as they curved downward. The explosion caused Rudolph’s nose-light to go out, and knocked them off course.

“Oh oh, this is going to be ugly,” said Rudolph. The confusion caused the team to drop hard and fast.

Do Do, Crackers, and Dogface saw the object disappear from their radar.

“Mission completed,” radioed Do Do, “let’s head for home.”

Rudolph pulled the team out of the loop onto the glacier at top speed. The reindeer skidded and plowed a trench in the snow. Rudolph went down. The team tumbled, rolled, and slid behind him. Dasher clipped a large chunk of ice and shattered his leg. Comet banged his head and went unconscious. After sliding and plowing snow for what seemed like an eternity they disappeared into a deep crevasse.

To be continued…

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The Air Force spotted Santa, but thought he was a missile. They fired at the team, but they out ran the missile. The maneuver caused them to crash-land on Denali, and to disappear from all radar.

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Chapter 6- THE SEARCH

At the North Pole, Morty and Ben set up a communication center. Ben opened a map of the world and pinned it to a wall. He marked the location of every report that came in from the animal kingdom with a push-pin. The messages began coming in immediately.

Most reports were “nothing sighted, scented, or heard in our sector.”  If a spot on the map looked empty, Morty called the animals in that sector and asked for a report. Soon the map was filled with red push pins. There was one bare spot on the map.  It was in Alaska. It was snowing very hard all over the state and the snow kept the animals from moving around.

Morty called Gabriel, “Send a fleet of Guardian Angels to Alaska, and have them look for Santa.”

Gabriel paged all available angels and sent them to look. Each angel was assigned a sector, and was asked to report unusual activity.

The grizzly bears were hibernating, so they were out, and the wolves, elk, sheep, and goats were all down at lower levels for the winter. The highest points of the mountain were assigned to the bald eagles, but they had to wait for the morning light and for the snow to stop.

Mrs. Claus began to cry. Ben took her to the kitchen to make some tea. There, in the kitchen, he spoke softly and assured her that if anyone could find Santa, Morty could.

Morty studied the map with Jasper. There were red pins everywhere. Where could Santa be?

“Do you see what I see?” asked Morty.

“Yes, there is a big blank spot over Denali.”

“I bet that is where they are,” said Morty, “If he is high on the mountain in the storm, it would explain why we have not heard from anyone there. It also means that we’ll have to use some special tools to find him. I’ll ask my friend Polly to help.”

He called Gabriel over the Sentra-vision.

“Find Polly Polar Bear, and let me know where she is. I think she can help us on Denali.”

“I will get back to you as soon as I find her,” said Gabriel.

Just as he promised, Gabriel called back with Polly’s location, “she is on an ice floe near the North Pole.” He down-loaded her location into Sky Scooter.

“Let’s get going,” said Morty.  Together, they boarded the scooter. Morty hit auto pilot and they were off to find Polly. It was still snowing hard when they left.

Polar bears love the cold, and Polly was on an ice floe hunting for seals. Morty landed on the ice right next to her.

“Hello Polly, meet Ben.”

“I haven’t seen you since last year, what brings you here on a night like this?” asked Polly.

“Santa is missing and I need your help to find him. We think he is lost on Denali,” said Morty.

“I know, I called in my report earlier,” answered Polly.

The three of them squeezed on the scooter, and took off.

On the way, Morty called Gabriel.

“Tell Jasper to get the elves and the Red team ready to meet us.”

“Roger,” answered Gabriel. “While you were fetching Polly I got a report from Guardian Angel Frederick. He was with his pilot who got an order to fire a rocket over Denali.”

“Oh Lord,” said Morty, “I hope it wasn’t directed at Santa.”

To be continued…

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Morty and Ben have picked up their friend Polly Polar Bear to help with the search for Santa.

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Chapter 7-The Smell of Fire

Morty landed on the top of Denali. Polly jumped off and put her nose into the air.

“Nothing human or animal, but I do smell something, it smells like fire,” said Polly.

“That could be the missile. Can you tell where it is coming from?”

“I can’t tell for sure.”

“Polly, you scout this side of the mountain, Ben and I will fly to the other side. I’ll check with you later.

“Ben, you drive the scooter, and I’ll look for Santa.

“Don’t be afraid,” said Morty, “you will do very well, I trust you very much.”

With that said, Ben and Morty left to start their search.

Polly followed her nose down the mountain. The smell of the fire was still there. She ambled down to the glacier. “This is going to be fun,” she thought, “I’ll just slide on my belly while I search.”

Polly zigzagged going down. The smell of the fire got stronger.  She changed direction and the smell grew weaker. After the third pass, she was certain the smell was stronger on the West side.

“I’ll stay on the side where the smell is strongest, and cut my slide time in half,” she said to herself.

The big polar bear continued sliding, but now she only went half the distance. On her fifth pass the scent was very strong, and she saw disruptions in the snow.

Those look like tracks that have been snowed over.  I’ll stop here and wait for Morty to check in.

Ben and Morty flew back and forth down the opposite side of Denali, and saw nothing unusual.

“It’s time to check on Polly.” Ben pointed the scooter to the top of the mountain and over to the other side where Polly was waiting for them.

Morty called Gabriel.

“Frederick reported that after the missile exploded the object disappeared,” said Gabriel

To be continued…

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C8-RED SNOW

Posted on 08/12/2010 by Grumpa Joe | Edit

Morty, Ben, and Polly split up to search for Santa on both sides of the mountain. Polly finds something suspicious.

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The big snow storm covered over the crevasse, making it impossible for Santa and the reindeer to see. Donner and Dancer returned from their exploration. There was no way out, except up. Rudolph worked on the Sentra-vision unit with Santa. They could not make it work. Rudolph stomped his hoof against the dashboard in frustration and to his surprise his nose lit up.

“Santa, watch this,” he said. He held his hoof against the dash and his nose glowed red. It didn’t light up as brightly as it did when he was leading the sleigh, but it was bright enough to give them some light in the crevasse.

Ben and Morty crossed over the peak of Denali and started down to look for Polly.

“Did you see that?” asked Ben.

“What?”

“The red snow down below.”

“No, I didn’t see it. Do you see Polly yet?”

“Yes, she is just up ahead.”

Ben landed the Sky-scooter next to Polly.

“I’m glad you finally came, I found something interesting in the snow, and a few seconds ago I thought I saw a red glow in the snow up ahead,” said Polly.

“I saw it too,” said Ben.

“Let’s check it out,” said Morty. “Turn on the signal beacon so Jasper will know where to send the rescue team. Ben, you hover over us while I ride on Polly’s back. We will move forward cautiously.”

“There it is again,” shouted Ben, “a red flash in the snow about fifty yards ahead of us.”

Polly walked slowly down the glacier with Morty perched on her back. She followed the tracks, then suddenly she stopped.

“I smell reindeer blood,” she said, “it’s fresh under the new snow.”

“Where are they? Asked Morty, Keep on walking.”

“I just saw the red light again,” said Ben from the air. The snow lit up with a red glow just a few feet ahead.”

“They could be covered by snow,” said Polly, “but I don’t see any bumps or mounds anywhere.”

“Let me try something,” said Ben, “if I pass over the top of the snow quickly, maybe I can stir it up, and uncover something.”

“Go ahead,” said Morty, “tap the thrust button, and then hold on tight.” Ben tapped the button, and the scooter shot down the mountain, creating a turbulence of air behind it. Snow flew everywhere. Polly and Morty felt like they were in a blizzard. The swirling snow covered them over. Ben turned at the bottom of the glacier, and flew back. Morty and Polly were brushing snow off of themselves

“There is a hole in the snow with a red light coming out of it,” said Ben.

Polly took a few steps forward. She stopped abruptly, and backed up. Suddenly, the snow covering the crevasse began to cave in revealing a deep canyon in front of them.

“A crevasse,” growled Polly. “They slid down the glacier into the crevasse. That explains why we couldn’t see them or smell them.”

The falling snow-bridge nearly buried Santa and the team.

“I hear voices, someone has found us,” said Santa, “Rudolph keep your nose flashing on and off.”

Rudolph was up to his antlers in snow and couldn’t move.

“I need some help to dig Rudolph out of the snow pile, come here quickly,” called Santa. Cupid started jumping as hard as he could and soon freed himself.  He sprang up and over to Rudolph and started moving snow with his antlers. Santa was on the other side digging with his hands.

Morty got on the scooter with Ben and looked down into the crevasse. He saw Santa and Cupid shoveling snow off of Rudolph.

“Don’t worry Santa we’ll clear the snow out of there in a second.”

Morty moved Ben out of the driver’s seat. “Hold on Ben.”

Morty took Sky-scooter high over the crevasse in a big arc. He nosed downward and tapped the thrust button. Sky-scooter swished down into the crevasse at supersonic speed. Just as he was about to hit Santa, Morty pulled up, and steered the scooter out of the crevasse. The scooter created a vacuum and the snow that fell came flying out after the scooter. It looked like a giant white tail on the end of Sky. The snow arched up and over Polly’s head and landed into a huge pile.

“Gabriel, we found Santa. Send Jasper with the rescue team. They are trapped at the bottom of a deep crevasse,” radioed Morty.

To be continued . . .

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C9-THE RESCUE

Posted on 09/12/2010 by Grumpa Joe | Edit

IN THE LAST CHAPTER, THE SEARCH TEAM SPOTTED A MYSTERIOUS RED GLOW IN THE SNOW. THEY  DISCOVERED SANTA ON THE BOTTOM OF A DEEP CREVASSE THAT WAS COVERED BY A SNOW BRIDGE.

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Mrs. Claus breathed a big sigh when the news came. The elves cheered. Jasper left immediately with the rescue team. He followed the signal sent by Sky-scooter. The Red Team landed on the edge of the crevasse. The elves jumped into action with rope ladders and lifting equipment.

“Take care of Dasher’s leg first, then Comet’s head,” said Santa.

Four elves found Dasher, put a sling around his body, and gently lifted him up to the sleigh. Albert Elf placed a compress against Comet’s head, and Mercy bandaged Prancer’s bloody shoulder. It was Prancer’s blood that Polly smelled.

The Red Team raced back to the infirmary at the North Pole with Dasher, Prancer, and Comet then returned. The elves lifted Santa and the reindeer out of the crevasse while they were gone. Only one more thing had to be rescued; Santa’s favorite supersonic sleigh.

The sleigh was wedged between the walls in the deep split. Neither Santa nor Morty could budge it. Ben came to the rescue again.

“I’ll tie a rope to the runner and you tie the other end to Sky-scooter,” he said.

“Great idea,” said Morty.

Ben shimmied down a rope into the crevasse.

“We will use the power of the scooter to pull the sleigh out.”

“I can pull too,” said Polly, “let me try first.”

Morty looped a rope around Polly’s neck. Ben tied the other end to the runner.

“Pull hard Polly,” said Morty, “pull really hard.” Polly pulled with all her might, and the sled moved a tiny bit.

“That’s it Polly,” yelled Morty,“it’s moving.”

Ben pushed on the sleigh from another direction, and loosened it some more.

“Pull again, Polly,” said Morty.

Polly strained and the sleigh started to move up the wall.

“I can’t hold it,” she said.

“Ben, is the rope tied to the runner?

“Yes, it is.”

Morty pushed the thrust button for power.

“Pull, Polly, pull.”

She pulled as hard as she could. On the other side of the crevasse Sky-scooter made a long loud roar, and the sleigh inched out of the hole onto the glacier.

“Thank you,” said Santa. “Now, please take me to the North Pole, it is Christmas Eve, and I have work to do.”

To be continued . . .

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C10-MORTY TAKES OVER

Posted on 10/12/2010 by Grumpa Joe | Edit

In the last episode, Ben and Morty  rescued Santa and the reindeer from the bottom of the crevasse.

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Morty rushed Santa back to the North Pole. Polly said she would find her way back alone, and Ben returned with the elves.

Mrs. Claus and the elves had a back up sleigh packed and ready to go, but there was still one problem. Santa didn’t have a replacement light for Rudolph’s nose.

“I’ll lead you Santa,” said Morty, “with Sky-scooter I can fly anywhere.”

“Would you do that for me Morty?”

“My orders from the Boss were to make sure his Son’s birthday was not spoiled. If you don’t get the presents to all the good kids, they will be disappointed on Jesus’ birthday.”

By this time, Ben arrived.

“Can I come too? He asked.

“You can ride with us until we get to your house.”

“We will go to your house first,” said Santa. ‘Morty will tuck you into bed while I climb down the chimney. After I eat the milk and cookies, we will be on our way again.”

That night Morty rode on Sky Scooter at the front of the reindeer team. Morty and Sky-scooter did such a good job, Santa didn’t even know Rudolph was not there. Santa took off from each roof shouting his wish

“Merry Christmas, ho, ho, ho.”

Morty helped Santa complete the delivery of Christmas presents to good children all around the world to celebrate Jesus birthday.

As Morty led Santa from house to house, Ben slept. He was cozy and warm in his bed dreaming of how he helped to rescue Santa from the glacier. He remembered having tea with Mrs. Claus and assuring her that Morty would find Santa.

On Christmas morning, Ben awoke and ran into the room where the Christmas tree stood. There were presents piled everywhere. Morty was there too. He sat on a pile of packages with Ben’s name on them. He yawned, and stretched his arms out wide. Ben dove into the presents and started tearing them open.

Morty thought to himself, I’m really tired. The trip with Santa was a great work out. I wonder how he does it every year?

THE END

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

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The Gift, (A Story)

I published this story several years ago in a serial version. This year I have decided to republish as a complete story in one post. I wrote this for my young  grand children. It is suitable for ages six through twelve. Feel free to print this and use it as a reader for your kids, or read it to them. The cartoons tell the story as well as the words so just looking at the pictures gives a kid the story.

The Gift
Chapter One

Tree Farm

“There is the farm,” said Morty to himself. “Look at all those trees.”

Entrance-A0046

He came to the sign: Covert Tree Farm, Christmas Trees for Sale. Morty slowed Sky-scooter, and made a sharp right turn into the opening between the trees. The gravel drive wound through a grove of spruce trees. The tall trees shaded the forest floor, and kept it dark. Occasionally, a bird flitted from tree to tree and sang a sweet song. A beam of sunshine peeked through. God is shining a spotlight on me he thought. The ferns under the spotlight were lime green surrounded by dark green in the shade.
“These twists and turns are fun,” he said to Sky. He talked to his scooter whenever he was alone. Morty steered through forest leaning one way, then the other. His curl swayed from side to side. He was anxious to find the perfect present for his Boss. An opening of bright light led into the meadow where the farmer lived.
He spotted the sign for parking, and another sign on the barn stated rules for cutting Christmas trees.

Arrival

Cut the tree at the ground.
Do not cut in the middle.
2. Use only the saw provided.
3. Bring your tree to the barn for wrapping.
Trees are $8.00 per foot.

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Morty grabbed a saw and jumped onto the hay wagon behind the tractor. A cow mooed, and the horse whinnied in the barn. Chickens wandered all around the barnyard pecking for seed. He sat and looked around while he waited for the farmer.

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Gosh, look at all those trees. They surround the entire pasture as far as I can see. He daydreamed as he sat waiting.

Farmer Jim raises trees. He sells some at Christmas, and takes the large ones to the lumber mill in the town. He plants replacement trees to keep the forest alive. It takes fifty years to grow a tree big enough to sell for lumber, and twelve years to grow a tree tall enough for Christmas.
Morty sat staring at the trees and talked to himself. I love coming to the tree farm. It is fun to explore the woods. The forest is beautiful, peaceful, quiet, and majestic. I talk to them and they talk to me. When we are alone I hug them.

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Farmer Jim had a secret grove of old trees. He never cut these trees nor did his father, grandfather, or great-grandfather. His great-grandfather told him that they were there when he came to the farm in 1875. Some of them were two hundred feet tall. Morty discovered the grove last year, and fell in love with the old trees. His favorite was over two hundred years old. It lived through much of the history of our country. The big tree was a teenager when the very first settlers moved to the valley from the east.

I have to find a tree to give to baby Jesus on his birthday. I will invite my friends to help decorate, and make it special. The hay wagon jerked forward, and broke his thoughts. He was on his way to find the perfect tree.

Chapter 2

Morty Pops the Question

Farmer Jim stopped in the field he was harvesting. Morty hopped off with the saw in his hand, and began to search.
My tree has to be perfect, he thought. It has to be shapely, and full with branches all around. It cannot be too big because my room is small. Morty wandered through the rows of trees. Most of them were already five to six feet tall. Many had bare spots, and deformed branches. With so many trees, picking the right one was not easy.
“They all looked perfect from the air,” he said out loud. “They looked beautiful, but at ground level, they all have defects.”
He stopped in front of a Blue Spruce to ask for help.

“Please help me find the tree I need,” he said to a tree. “I want one that is as tall as I am, but it can’t be too wide. My tree has to be shaped like a cone without bare spots. ”
“I was exactly like that three years ago.”
“So was I,” answered another spruce.
Morty kept walking up and down row after row of trees. He finally stopped in front of a very tall Balsam tree.
“Can you help me?”

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“What do you want?
“I’m looking for the perfect tree to give Jesus for Christmas.”
“I can see the tree you want from here. Follow this road next to me. Count off twenty rows, turn left, and count another five trees. There, in the center of a small clearing you will find the tree you want.”

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“Thanks,” said Morty. He took the Balsam’s directions, and counted as he walked. When he reached number twenty, he turned left and counted five more. There, in the center of a small clearing stood a beautiful blue-green spruce tree. It was perfect.

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I can’t believe it, he thought. Morty was speechless. He walked around the tree, looking for bare spots; there were none.
“It is as tall as I am, and it is shaped like a perfect cone.” He circled the tree over, and over, looking, and thinking, this tree will make a perfect present for Jesus. He examined the tree from all angles. He couldn’t find a single flaw.
He finally broke his silence, and spoke.
“Hi, I’m Morty Angel, would you like to be my gift to Baby Jesus?

Chapter 3

The Deal

“I’m glad to meet you,” said the little tree. “My name is Connie, short for Coniferous. How can I help you?
“I want you to be my gift to Jesus.”
“I can’t do that, my work is to provide a home for the birds, and to shelter the rabbit that sleeps under my boughs. This summer, I had three families living in my branches. What will they do without me to shelter them?”

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“The Boss will take care of them,” said Morty, “besides, there are many trees in the forest to help them. It is a great honor to do something special for Jesus’ birthday.”
“What do I have to do?”
“Let me take you home and decorate you for Christmas.”
Connie hesitated a bit, “If I choose to accept, then I am giving myself totally to the Baby Jesus. I can only stay alive as long as the sap in my branches will hold my needles.”

“I know that,” said Morty. “I picked you because you are magnificent, and I want to please God’s Son. After we finish dressing you, I know you will make Jesus smile.”
“How will you decorate me?”
“I will lay strings of colorful lights on your boughs, and hang ornaments to reflect the light onto your needles My friends will string popcorn beads, painted pine cones, icicles, and snowflakes on your branches. We will put a crystal star on your top stem. You will look stunning. I’ll play Christmas carols to get into the spirit of Christmas. Then, after Christmas is over, I will use your branches to warm my house. Please do it.”
Connie agreed that pleasing Jesus on his day was important. He knew that Christmas was special. This was his chance to do something he could not do if he remained in the forest. If he stayed, he would grow big and tall and head for the sawmill.
After a long pause, Connie said, “It will be my honor to be your gift to Jesus.

Chapter 4

Getting Home

“This won’t hurt a bit,” said Morty. He pushed and pulled the saw back and forth through Connie’s sap filled trunk in rapid motions. Seconds later, Connie fell onto the spot where the rabbit huddled at night to stay warm. The empty birds’ nest clung to his branches.
Morty saw the rabbit hiding under a nearby tree, “Well, Mr. Rabbit, come home with me. I’ll keep you warm.”
The rabbit jumped out. “Will you take care of me the way Connie did?”
“Yes,” said Morty, “come with me.” Morty hadn’t finished talking to the rabbit when the cardinal, the sparrow, and the chickadee appeared from nowhere and circled around his head.
“Will you take care of us too?”
“Sure,” he said. “Come with me. We will have a great time.”
“Hold on tight, Connie, I have to drag you to the wagon.” They left a track through the snow as Morty pulled Connie behind him. They stopped in front of the tall Balsam for a rest. 
 “I can see that you found the perfect tree,” said the Balsam.
“Yes,” said Morty, “thank you very much. I couldn’t have done it without your expert directions.”
“Have a very Merry Christmas,” replied Balsam, “I wish I could be going with you.”
Farmer Jim came and found them. He helped Morty lift Connie onto the hay wagon.

BackInthe Yard0055
“I never thought about how I would bring a tree home on my scooter,” he said.
“Don’t worry,” said Farmer Jim, “I will help you get the tree onto your scooter. I have to help everyone who comes here. I have lots of experience with that.”
The tractor stopped in front of the shed next to the barn. Farmer Jim slid Connie into the wrapping machine, and pushed the button. A big wheel started circling around Connie. The noisy machine pulled cord around the branches, and squeezed them tightly into Connie’s trunk. When the noise stopped, Connie was much thinner than before.

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Morty carried Connie to his scooter, and just stared. He could not see how to load him. The compartment was only big enough to hold a picnic lunch and some tools. The scooter was smooth all over. It didn’t have anything sticking out to tie a rope around.

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“What am I going to do?” Morty placed the tree against the side of the scooter. “Nope, that won’t work,” he said. Next, he laid Connie onto the seat. He fit nicely along the top and hanging over the end, but Morty would have to sit on top of him to drive.

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“I don’t like that either. I know, I’ll sit and hold him between my legs.” He held Connie upright between his arms. “That is worse because I can not see to drive with Connie in my face.”

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Farmer Jim finally came out and tied Connie to the seat.
“You will have to sit on him,” he told Morty.”
“Okay, but I don’t like it, come on kids hop on.”

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The bunny jumped on and huddled by his feet, and the birds found secret openings in the branches to hide in.
“I’ll go slow,” said Morty.
“Good, I don’t want you to lose me after all that fuss.”
Morty drove Sky-scooter slowly and silently. The only sound came from Connie. He was singing Happy Birthday.

Chapter 5

Reminiscing

The scoot home took a long time, and Morty deliberately kept Skye out of hyper-drive. He drove slowly to keep the little tree from tearing off. They talked as he drove.
“The farmer planted me as a seed eight years ago. I became a sapling quickly, and was transplanted into a new field.”
Connie jabbered away as Morty drove.
“Farmer Jim re-planted me again when I reached sapling stage. He put me into the field where his great, great, great, great-grandfather grew up. I went thirsty during the drought, and the hot summer nearly fried my needles. I liked winter best. I loved when the snow covered my boughs and they drooped to the ground.”
“I’ve been a Guardian Angel since the beginning of time,” said Morty. “My duty is to watch over Brad. I love watching kids the best.”
“My favorite job is to take care of birds. The cardinals and chickadees picked me this year. They built their nests deep in my boughs to hide it from predators. I couldn’t believe how many trips they made with string, and twigs from all over the farm. Red and Rosy Cardinal brought the pieces one by one, and Rosy wove them into place. She pasted it all together with mud from the pond.”

cat0042
“I loved to watch the Cardinals fly back and forth to feed their babies. They slept between meals, but made a lot of noise when they woke up. The kids chirped loudly until a parent came with food. One day, a cat came into my field. Rosy covered the nest with her body, and spread her wings to hide them. Red buzzed the cats’ ears to get his attention away from the babies. I dropped my boughs over the nest to give them more protection. Everything became very still while the cat was there. All the trees around me watched him stalk; his head was low, and his shoulders in a crouch. After what seemed like an eternity of stillness, the cat finally wandered off.”

Morty arrived home after dark. He untied Connie’s branches and set him upright into a bucket of water.
“Tomorrow,” he said, “I will place you into a tree stand, and dress you for the birthday party. Now it is time for all of us to rest.”

Chapter 6

Decoration

Early the next morning, Morty got up, brushed his teeth, combed his curl, and ate breakfast. It was time. He found the tree stand and placed it in the corner of his tiny room. Next, he placed Connie into the stand, and filled it with sugar water to give him strength while he was on duty for the party.

Tree-trim0041

“I have to play Christmas carols while we decorate.” He tuned in to the Choir of Heavenly Angels over his boom box to play carols just as he promised Connie.
Morty sang with the music. He joyfully strung the lights onto each branch, making sure that the spacing was even. The rabbit and the birds helped decorate by hanging the popcorn garland. The sparrow held one end of the garland while the cardinal held it farther down the string. The Chickadee held a third spot. They flew up in unison carrying the garland. Gently, they lowered the popcorn garland onto the branches. The beads came next. “I wish Brad were here to help,” said Morty. “His muscles would be a great with the heavy beads. They are too heavy for the birds. I must drape the beads carefully to make them look pretty.”

As he worked, he hummed Silent Night, his favorite Christmas carol.
“Sing with me Connie.”
“Si – lent night, Ho – ly night,
All is calm. All is bright.
Round yon Vir – gin Moth – er and child!
Ho – ly in – fant so ten – der and mild,
Sleep in heav – en – ly peace,
Sleep in heav – en – ly peace.”
They sang together as they worked.
“We have to finish decorating Connie so we can prepare for the party tonight.”
What a happy group they were. The Cardinals, Chickadee, Rabbit and Morty were all decorating the tree for Jesus.
“One last trick,” said Morty. “Birds, please carry the crystal star and place it on Connie’s top stem.”
He had one final ornament to place on Connie.
“You can be proud Connie. You are beautiful and will make Jesus happy on his birthday.

Tree-topper0040.

Chapter  7

Final Touches

“Be careful with the tinsel, said Morty. “Hang each strand carefully. I don’t want Connie to look like the nest in the top branches.”
Morty placed a shiny gold ornament into the nest. As Red, Chick, and Spare hung the tinsel they chirped Silent Night. When the last strand was in place, they landed on Morty’s curl and admired their creation. Connie was an outstanding gift to the Baby Jesus on His birthday. Morty turned on the lights, and Connie came to life.
“I feel so wonderful,” said Connie, “you made me look beautiful. I hope Baby Jesus likes me.”
Morty handed the rabbit a bright red cloth, “put this around the tree stand to add the final touch.” Rabbit dragged the red cloth under Connie’s boughs where he had spent so many nights out of harms way, and worked the cover around the base.
“We have to put up the nativity next.” Morty pulled a small table to the tree. He wanted the nativity to be next to Connie where all of his friends would see it. Rabbit wiped the table clean, and covered it with Morty’s best tablecloth. The birds waited nearby. Each had a figure, ready to place. Morty set the stable in place.
“Okay, now you can finish by putting the figures down.”
Each bird hovered gently with a figure in its beak, and lowered it to the table. They handled each Mary, Joseph, and Jesus and all of the characters of the scene with special care and gentleness.
Morty put the last tiny white lamb down, “here you are little Shepard.” The nativity was complete.

Creche0039

Chapter 8

Birthday Party

Morty’s tiny house glowed with the tree and the nativity. The birds sang in anticipation of the party. Morty and Rabbit danced a circle around the room.
“My friends Max, and Gracie are coming to celebrate,” he said. “They will be late. Gracie is with Ben, and Max is with Jenna. They must stay until the kids say their prayers, and are asleep.
When the guardian angels knew their kids were dreaming of sugarplums and fairies, they slipped away to Morty’s house.
Max and Gracie arrived with their halos turned on, and shining brightly. Their angel wings glowed and fluttered when they saw Connie for the first time.
“Wow, what a beautiful tree,” they said. “Jesus will love you Connie.” “I have a new tradition to share with you,” said Morty.
“What is it?”
“It is called breaking bread.” Morty gave Max and Gracie each a slice of unleavened bread He held his own piece up and stood in front of Gracie. “Hold your bread up like I am doing.”
“Like this?”
“Yes.” Morty pinched a piece of Gracie’s bread and said, “I wish you peace.” He tore another piece and wished her love.
“Now you do the same and make your own wishes for me.”
Gracie followed his example. “What a beautiful tradition. Where did you learn this?”
“On my last visit to heaven, Brad, Ben, and Jenna’s Grandma showed me. She asked me to keep the tradition going in her family.”
The three angels shared wishes for each other. Each of them broke bread from the other and made a wish with each piece.
When the bread was all gone, they made one final wish.
“Merry Christmas.”

Adoration-R0-0043_edited
Without another word, Morty, Gracie, and Max, knelt quietly before the crèche, the birds, and the rabbit at their sides.
They said prayers for their children, for peace in the world, and for goodwill toward all men!

The End The Gift (A Story)

I Guess I’m a Winer

Is it five o’clock yet?

 

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Hello August

Hello August. I hope you intend to be good to the world again. Usually, you give us balmy dewey wet mornings followed by beautiful hot sunny days without much rain. You are the perfect month for lazy days by the seaside, and for birthday parties outside at night. Your daylight hours are noticeably shorter giving us a hint of the many light deprived days that are headed our way. Alas, let me not dwell on those dreary days but rather bask in the beauty of your warmth.

All around me I find birds busily scurrying to feed their last brood of the summer, the Comets dart from under the lily pads to grab a bug coming from the brook, frogs hunt amongst the spent foliage for something to eat while rabbits graze on clover blossoms and hop about the yard. Many new flowers like the native hibiscus with its giant bright flowers begin to pop open. Rose of Sharon blooms profusely in white, pink, and blue while the foliage of the peony bushes fade and wither. Day lilies continue to open new blimagejpeg_0.jpgoms among the spent ones, and the lawn is still lush green from the late summer rains.

Yes, August you are perfect for a birthday celebration, and I will enjoy my own in all your glory, and I thank you for giving me your magnificence.

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The Final Inspection

Drill_instructor_at_the_Officer_Candidate_School

Gunnery Sgt. Shawn D. Angell is a drill instructor at the Officer Candidate School aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., dedicated to training, educating, evaluating and screening the many candidates who go through the course and turning them into Marine leaders.

By Sgt. Joshua Helterbran

The Final Inspection

The soldier stood and faced his God
Which must always come to pass
He hoped his shoes were shining
Just as brightly as his brass

“Step foward now you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek,
And to my church have you been true?”

The soldier squared his shoulders and said,
“No Lord, I guess I ain’t,
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can’t always be saints

“I’ve had to work most Sundays
And at times my talk was tough
And sometimes I’ve been violent
Because the streets were awfully rough”

But I never took a penny,
That was’nt mine to keep
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills just got to steep,

And I never passed a cry for help
Although, at times I shook with fear
And sometimes, God forgive
I’ve wept unmanly tears

I know I don’t deserve a place
Among the people here
That never wanted me around
Except to calm there fears

If you have a place for me here O’ Lord
It needn’t be so grand
I’ve never expected, or had so much
But if you don’t I’ll understand”

There was a silence all around the throne
Where the Saints had often trod
As this soldier waited quietly
For the judgment from his God

“Step foward now you soldier,
You’ve borne your
burdens well
Walk peacefully on Heaven’s streets,
You’ve done your time in Hell”

The Last Ones

This essay struck home because I was born in the time period it is about. I agree with everything the author claims, except for one thing, that is the ducking down under our desks for a bomb drills. Maybe the nuns that taught us did not read the news or or hear news reports. Perhaps they just trusted that God would protect us in the event, but I never heard of anyone in my school ever hiding under his desk to protect himself against an A-bomb. Now, that I think about it the nuns probably knew that the desk would provide little protection against any bomb, and let it be, it is called common sense.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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Children of the 1930s & 1940
“The Last Ones”
A Short Memoir

Born in the 1930s and early
1940s, we exist as a very special age cohort.
We are the “last ones.” We are the last,
climbing out of the depression, who can remember the
winds of war and the war itself with fathers and
uncles going off. We are the last to remember
ration books for everything from sugar to shoes to
stoves. We saved tin foil and poured fat into tin
cans. We saw cars up on blocks because tires
weren’t available. My mother delivered milk in
a horse drawn cart. We are the last to hear
Roosevelt’s radio assurances and to see gold stars
in the front windows of our grieving neighbors.
We can also remember the parades on
August 15, 1945; VJ Day.
We saw the ‘boys’ home from the war build their
Cape Cod style houses, pouring the cellar,
tar papering it over and living there until they
could afford the time and money to build it out.
We are the last who spent childhood without television;
instead imagining what we heard on the radio.
As we all like to brag, with no TV, we spent our childhood
“playing outside until the street lights came on.”
We did play outside and we did play on our own.
There was no little league.
The lack of television in our early years meant,
for most of us, that we had little real understanding
of what the world was like. Our Saturday afternoons,
if at the movies, gave us newsreels of the war and the
holocaust sandwiched in between westerns and
cartoons. Newspapers and magazines were written for
adults. We are the last who had to find out for ourselves.
As we 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 put factories to
work. New highways would bring jobs and mobility.
The veterans joined civic clubs and became active in
politics. In the late 40s and early 50’s the country
seemed to lie in the embrace of brisk but quiet order
as it gave birth to its new middle class. Our parents
understandably became absorbed with their own new lives.
They were free from the confines of the depression and
the war. They threw themselves into exploring
opportunities they had never imagined.

We weren’t neglected but we weren’t today’s
all-consuming family focus. They were glad we played
by ourselves ‘until the street lights came on.’
They were busy discovering the post war world.
Most of us had no life plan, but with the unexpected
virtue of ignorance and an economic rising tide
we simply stepped into the world and went to find out.
We entered a world of overflowing plenty and opportunity;
a world where we were welcomed. Based on our naïve belief
that there was more where this came from, we shaped
life as we went.
We enjoyed a luxury; we felt secure in our future.
Of course, just as today, not all Americans shared
in this experience. Depression poverty was deep
rooted. Polio was still a crippler. The Korean War
was a dark presage in the early 1950s and by
mid-decade school children were ducking under
desks. China became Red China. Eisenhower
sent the first “advisors” to Vietnam. Castro set-up
camp in Cuba and Khrushchev came to power.
We are the last to experience an interlude when
there were no existential threats to our homeland.
We came of age in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
The war was over and the cold war, terrorism, climate
change, technological upheaval and perpetual
economic insecurity had yet to haunt life with
insistent unease. Only we can remember both a
time of apocalyptic war and a time when our world
was secure and full of bright promise and
plenty. We experienced both.

We grew up at the best possible time, a time the world was getting
better not worse .

We did not have it easy. Our wages were low, we
did without, we lived within our means, we worked
hard to get a job, and harder still to keep
it. Things that today are considered
necessities, we considered unreachable
luxuries. We made things last. We fixed,
rather than replaced. We had values and did
not take for granted that “Somebody will take care
of us”. We cared for ourselves and we also
cared for
others.

We are the ‘last ones.’

Author
unknown

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