Deep Seated Impressions

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TRAINS

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PLANES

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AUTOMOBILES

 

A few years ago a movie called Trains, Planes, and Automobiles came out and caused me to laugh my butt off. I just finished reading a book titled “Fly Boys” by James Bradley. The story is about World War Two with Japan in the Pacific. I learned a lot reading this account. First, the history of Japan and its Emperor worship which eventually evolved into their samurai military. I learned that we won the war not with the atomic bomb, but by an endless assault of incendiary bombs on cities built of wooden buildings. We burned the Japs to death. The atomic bombs were just a more efficient method.

During my early years, I read daily news accounts of battles, defeats, and victories. On my paper route, I noticed flags hanging in windows with gold stars on them. I grew up during World War Two. I watched my parents become somber when FDR declared war after the Pearl Harbor attack. I saw families in our neighborhood mourn the loss of their sons. It had an effect on my psyche. I learned to hate the Japanese as well as the Germans, and Italians, but I had a special hatred for Japan. This hatred grew as I grew.

As a young adult when it came time to enter the business world this conflict grew. As an engineer and product designer I favored US made products over those of the inferior Japanese made ones. My Christianity continued to work on me and as my thoughts about heaven and the teachings of Jesus to love my neighbor as myself began to take root my hatred began to dissolve, slowly. By 1969, I opened my mind to Japanese made products and bought a Toyota Corolla. It only served to bolster my attitude about Jap-Crap. My kids were old enough to chastise me about my use of words and that also affected me. I tried like heck to transfer my hatred to them, but they were smarter than me and resisted. The Corolla and I lasted but two years together. It was the worst car I ever owned.

The years passed and my war against Japanese products waged. I preached American made to anyone who would listen. My friends bought Japanese made Toyotas, Hondas, and Datsuns.  I lost the war when my three kids all bought Japanese made cars and loved them, but I kept telling myself that the price I paid for a good UAW made American car was worth it in patriotic pride. In 2006, I finally succumbed to the Japanese automakers. That came after studying their manufacturing methods and their zest for never-ending quality control. America finally woke up to the fact that Japanese manufacturing methods and quality systems were superior. American manufacturers were in catch-up mode. Our employers all scurried looking for the magic bullet that would allow them to compete. I came to believe in the Japanese system, not because it was Japanese but because it was American. They were smart enough to hire Joe Duran an American quality guru who couldn’t find an audience in America. The Japanese studied his system, and then embraced it. They implemented practices until it hurt, but it paid off. The result is a revolution in auto-making that has changed the world. They have won that war.

In 2006, I bought a Toyota Avalon which I so dearly have named the Death Star. It is the finest car I have ever owned. Then came “Flyboys.” Reading a history of the war with Japan in the detail in which author James Bradley tells has reawakened the deep-seated hatred within my heart. The atrocities committed by the Japanese during the war are hard to understand, but author Bradley explains the Japanese warrior psyche in detail and makes an attempt to rationalize their behavior. What is harder to take are the counter-atrocities we committed to beat them. Our methods were the best we could come up with. They were not pretty, but necessary. Japan’s determination was to take over China and the Pacific to expand their empire. They needed room to grow. Their population in the late nineteen thirties peaked at sixty million, and they lived on an island the size of California. Today, California has sixty-four million people and I think it is over populated.

Hopefully, this reawakened hatred will be short-lived as the memory of this narrative wears off. So, what does this have to do with my opening sentence, “A few years ago a movie called Trains, Planes, and Automobiles came out and caused me to laugh my butt off”? The answer is “nothing,” but my fascination with trains, planes and automobiles developed during this time frame. I grew up on a street one block away from a Nickel Plate RR line and I listened to and watched thousands of trains pass by carrying war materials. Airplanes of every type flew over head daily on the way to training fields and to missions in the Pacific, and automobile development stopped causing people to keep the cars they had, or to buy used 1930’s vintage models. To this day I love WWII airplanes, nineteen thirties hot rods, and steam engines.

I Wore Out My Welcome

We visited the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale Arizona this week and found it a joy. I must admit that I went there to see toy trains in action. Peg went with me because she likes a day out no matter what. My secret plan was to take her through the parts of the park she would enjoy first, then I would finish with a visit to the Model Railroad Building.

The history of this park begins with an evil “one-per-center” who bequeathed his personal estate including  his backyard railroad on one hundred acres to Scottsdale. I’m talking about a Walt Disney style railroad that one rides on and drives like an engineer. Scottsdale made it into a public park.

We arrived there and headed for the restrooms. A playground opposite crawled with young moms and their toddlers climbing all over the playground. A line of yellow school buses queued at the entrance and lines of kids ushered by teachers boarded. We proceeded to the train station and bought tickets for two of the attractions that required them. The museum consists of a historic train depot from Peoria, Arizona. A gentleman wearing a Railroad Conductor’s uniform and cap took our tickets and greeted us warmly.

Immediately, the first display case caught my attention. Inside were three HO-scale model railroad cars depicting the train that carried President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s casket to his home in Hyde Park from Warm Springs, Georgia where he died. Since the cabinet stood next to the Conductor who took our tickets, I asked him if the real Pullman cars represented by these models are still in existence. He pointed out the window at two cars standing next to the building, and said, “there are two of them.”  The Conductor’s name tag read “Bob.” Peg and I spent thirty minutes in front of that display case asking Bob questions about the history of FDR’s death and his use of private Pullman Rail cars as his personal transportation while he served his presidency. We learned that in the beginning of his term, the government leased a car for his travel needs. After WWII began, the Secret Service purchased a car and had it made bullet proof. This car became U.S. One.

We finally broke from Bob and moved into the first car on display. Peg and I were reading and looking at historic photos when Bob appeared from nowhere to continue his personal tour. His knowledge of this era of trains is significant. If you visit the Park, I recommend you ask for Conductor Bob. FYI, tour guides are not part of the package. Bob took a shine to us because we are good listeners.

Bob took us through his effort to have the President’s Pullman on the Register of Historical Places. It took several years and loads of documentation to finally get approval, and they never told him that he got it. Bob is not one to let these things slide so he followed up. He learned from the Feds that they send official notification to the State official in charge of historical places. His boss finally pressured Arizona to send a letter of notification. I read the letter posted on the wall and learned his name is Robert Adler.

We finally moved into the  second car. Bob led us and explained each compartment. His attention to detail was amazing. We learned too many things about the sleeping habits of FDR. At the end of this long car is a parlor room where the president held meetings. In it is a couch, and several easy chairs. Pictures of FDR taken from inside this room filled the wall above the windows. Several more people entered and Peggy moved to leave, but Bob grabbed her by the arm and held on. Strange I thought, what is that all about? With all the people coming through the room we shuffled aside. Bob continued to hold on to Peg’s arm. He looked like he wanted to dance with her. Ultimately we learned why he did that. He asked her to sit in a chair in the corner of the room. She finally did sit down with his gentlemanly help. Bob then posed her in the chair placing one arm on the rest. He then pointed to a photo near the chair.”You are now sitting in the same place where FDR sat while traveling in this car.” Bob had posed her in the exact sitting position that FDR had in the photo above. It was a Kodak moment.

By this time, my blood sugar was screaming for nourishment. We lunched on the worst hamburgers ever cooked on the patio under an umbrella and watched the birds.

The miniature train was next to the lunch wagon so we headed there for our ride. It takes all of ten minutes to traverse a very nice figure eight through the park.

Finally, we found the Model Railroad Building. Three separate clubs operate the three layouts, O-gauge, HO-gauge,  and teensy-weeny N-gauge. All of them are works in progress with club members working on separate projects to complete building mountains, bridges, tunnels, towns, roads, to make realistic dioramas of life with trains.

My camera began to slow down, and I had to change batteries after taking just a few photos. We completed the O-gauge layout when a nice young woman came up to me and politely said, “I’m sorry sir, but it is after four o’clock and the building closed at four.” She guided us to the exit, and unlocked the door to let us out. As we left I said to her, “this is the most respectable place I’ve been thrown out of.”

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The Original Version of FED EX

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Conductor Bob poses with Peg

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The Clock is from Scottsdale’s sister town in Switzerland

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Roald Amundsen, first explorer to reach the South Pole.

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Bob posed Peg like FDR

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FDR sits in same chair in same place on the Roald Amundsen Pullman car

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All Aboard!

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Scairy Tale

      . . .  between the Atlantic and Pacific called the United States of America. The people there lived in freedom. They did as they pleased, went where they wanted, surfed the internet, practiced the religion of their choice, went to school, ate what they wanted, and spoke freely. Life in the USA became so good that the common Ignorant Ones did not notice a threat coming toward them. The Ignorant Ones elected a President named Wilson who believed that the Smart Ones must care for the Ignorant Ones. Other Smart Ones followed, and built on his platform.  Another president named Roosevelt also decided the Ignorant Ones could not take care of themselves. So he gave them Social Security, and the New Deal.  

     Then, President Johnson decided the Ignorant Ones needed a Great Society, and he made sure they got it. He needed money to pay for the Great Society, so he took some back from Ignorant Ones who were getting Social Security. They will never miss it he said. It is for the good of everyone. All the Ignorant Ones will benefit, and the Smart Ones will get more.

     Along came President Clinton. He wanted to give all the Ignorant Ones a free house. Everyone should live the American Dream. He signed a law to make the banks lend money to everyone to buy a house. When the banks said “no,” to the Ignorant Ones because they could not afford it, he sent ACORN to picket until they gave in. Eventually, millions of the Ignorant Ones owned the American Dream.  Meanwhile, the Smart Ones prospered more.   

     Eventually, a silver-tongued fox named Obama spoke to the Ignorant Ones. He hypnotized them with lyrical poetry, and his smartness. They named him The One. While they were in The One’s trance, he promised to change the greatest country in the world.  “Amen,” shouted the Ignorant Ones, “Go for it.” They voted for him to be their great leader.

     The One, came into power and immediately hired Radical Ones to set his policy. Like ants on a hill, they went about changing the greatest country in the world to remove freedoms from the Ignorant Ones. The One’s lyrical speech hypnotized the Congressional Ones, and Senate Ones to vote for radical laws. All of the new laws took from the Ignorant Ones and lined the pockets of the Smart Ones. The One chastised bankers for giving themselves raises for giving the American Dream to the Ignorant Ones. He called them Fat Cats, except the banks that he kept for himself. Those banks he called “Smart Ones.”

     The USA was the most powerful country in the world, and Lesser Countries looked up to the USA. They were insanely jealous of the USA’s freedom and success. The Smart Ones said, “War is bad.” The Lesser Countries said, “Three cheers for the USA, they finally got it.” Obama said, “We must weaken the most powerful country so everyone will love us.” We need to destroy all of our nuclear weapons, and let the Lesser Countries develop their own. That way the Lesser Countries can annihilate our allies.

     The Smart Ones created new policies that destroyed jobs. The Ignorant Ones became more dependent on the Smart Ones to give them aid. The aid came from taxing the Ignorant Ones. The Ignorant Ones became slaves to the Smart Ones, and bowed before them.

     That is the story of how the Smart Ones changed the greatest country in the world into the least respected, and least powerful. The Ignorant Ones in all the Lesser Countries were happy because the Ignorant Ones in the USA were the same as in the Lesser Countries. The Ignorant Ones in the USA were sad.

     In the end, the Smart Ones lived happily ever after, while the Ignorant Ones, their Ignorant Children, their Ignorant Grandchildren, and their Ignorant Great Grandchildren worked their asses off wearily ever after.

Slavery or Liberty?

My personal history is what shaped my thinking today. Mom and Dad came to this country to escape slavery. Yes, they were slaves. In Europe, most countries were feudal monarchies. In a monarchy the Lord owns everything, and everyone on his property. History is nice enough not to call them slaves; they were referred to as “serfs.” Living on a royal estate meant that if you were caught stealing a rabbit or a pheasant for your meal, you were punished. Everything belonged to the Lord of the estate. Happily, the monarchies eventually crumbled. My grandparents and my parents were born during this era. Living as a serf meant they were dirt poor. My grandfather couldn’t afford to feed his son, so he sent him to the “promised land.”  My father landed at Ellis Island in the nineteen twenties. He was seventeen, with only the clothes on his back. Somehow he managed to get to Chicago where he settled in a neighborhood of fellow immigrants who spoke the language. He managed to get a job with the railroad as a laborer. HE LEARNED TO SPEAK AND WRITE ENGLISH, He became a citizen. He registered to vote and voted in every election until he died. He retired from the same job forty eight years later.

 Shortly after he arrived, the country collapsed into the “Great Depression.”  His hours were cut in half. The RR wanted to spread the work around. He was happy to be employed. He married Mom, and together they worked things out. She grew vegetables in empty lots, learned to sew, and patched clothing. When she could, she worked part time jobs as a cook. There was no minimum wage, no health care, no forty hour week, no vacations, and welfare was a swear word. Only the very desperate went on welfare. They didn’t have a “Community Organizer” or “Acorn,” to help them. Mom and Dad survived on their own using their God given brain. They learned and understood the value of citizenship and the right to vote. They registered and voted in every election as Democrats. They lived as conservatives.

 They worshipped FDR because he brought the country out of the depression, and put men to work. We were never allowed to forget the depression. Any time we complained, we got the “depression,” lecture. Mom and Dad didn’t want to go through that again, ever. They warned us of the hardship that a depression would bring, and lived their lives as if another one could happen any moment. My grandfather lost his life savings in a failed bank, my Aunt lost her house to foreclosure. Life in a depression is not good.

My parent’s only education was their language and citizenship classes. Yet, they believed in the value of education. I went to a parochial school, they gladly paid. If I wasn’t getting good marks, they wanted to know why. They couldn’t help with my homework, but they insisted it be done. I went on to college. Dad didn’t understand what my chosen profession was about, but he supported me financially, and morally. They never complained, never asked for any help. They insisted I finish school.

Currently, our country faces the prospect of another “depression.” I know that those of us who were prepared to survive will make it through. I can only hope the same holds true for those who are not. What the people of this great country do not understand is the meaning of ‘poor.” I have personally seen poor people in other parts of the world. The poor in the U.S.A. are by far the richest poor in the world. They don’t know what poor means. We are also faced with a huge redistribution of wealth from the very rich to the so called “poor.” This move is definitely in the direction of socialism. Add that move to the effort to remove “GOD” from everything and we have “Communism.” Once the wealthy have been taxed to the point that they are no longer wealthy, we will all be the middle class. Those of us who are still working will be “slaves” to the Federal System to socialize everyone.

This is the way I see our choices:

1.    Vote for BO, become a slave to the feed the system.

2.    Vote for McCain and maintain your liberty to make a living as you choose and to use your earnings as you wish.

What will it be? Slavery or Liberty?

Older and Wiser

Wow! Too many projects, too little time to get them all done. Does that sound familiar? Let me tell you something folks, it doesn’t change with age. As long as a person has his health, and mental faculties, he will continue to want to be a useful citizen of this earth. I had a question last night from one of my Lions Club friends. We touched upon the election in our discussion. He is concerned because he is a conservative in all his views, yet he is questioning about voting for an old man.

He looked at me and asked, “how old are you Joe?

“Seventy,” I replied.

“Do you feel that you have the energy and mental capacity to be president?

“Yes,” was my answer. 

The real question in my mind is whether nature will be good to me, and let me keep my health and energy as I age. I fully intend to stay healthy, and today, I am reasonably healthy, but will I stay that way for much longer? I don’t know, neither do you. Only the Lord knows what is ahead of us. All we can do is, “Remember yesterday, Dream tomorrow, Live today.” 

So what if our current conservative candidate is old? He will select a younger Vice Presidential partner, who will rise to the occasion if it is necessary.  It is also a fact that young men die too. Many of them live a higher risk life style than older men, so their chances of meeting with injury or accidental demise is probably greater. Remember Christopher Reeves, “Super Man,” broke his neck while enjoying his passion, i.e. riding a horse. More recently, Heath Ledger died of too many medicines at one time. To quote a line from the movie “Forest Gump,”

” Shit Happens.”

 Life is filled with stories about people who die when they shouldn’t.

Instead of worrying about a candidate’s age, and his prospects for surviving life, we should concentrate on which political philosophy we want our kids, and grandkids to grow up with. We should be discussing our life values and the reasons that we believe in them.

My parents were staunch Democrats. They made one “X” on their ballot. They believed in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the saviour of the working class. Mom and Dad, lived through the depression, they blamed President Hoover for everything that went wrong with the economy. Yet, when I think about how they taught me to live, they were as conservative as the day is long. They never spoke of conservatism, but they lived it. They wouldn’t have understood what “Green” meant, but they lived more “Green” than any modern citizen does today. Their bottom line philosophies:

“If you don’t have the money, don’t buy it.”

“When you have land, you will always be able to feed yourself.”

Mom wasn’t talking about acres or hundreds of acres, she was talking about a back yard. She made our tiny yard into a farm. She raised vegetables, chickens, flowers, and some grass too.

“Never waste.” Mom knew how to mend socks, shirts, and pants. She knew the value of re-cycling hand-me-downs, and somehow we managed to survive without knowing we were poor.

“Welfare is for people who are worse off than we are.” My Dad would have hung himself before he accepted money from the government. He came to this country with the clothes on his back, got a job, learned English, took abuse from his co-workers, and managed to feed and educate three kids.

If you believe in big government, and the philosophy that Big Brother should take care of you, that’s okay. You should vote for the Liberal.

I happen to believe that the government is way too big, and the National Debt is out of control. If you want to tax me to pay off the debt, okay. If you want to tax me to pay for more social programs, go fly a kite.

I’m voting conservative even if the candidate is 101 years old. He’d be the much wiser choice.

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