Tag Archives: HUMAN INTEREST

America’s Great Pig War

Most Americans know a little about the times America went to war with Great Britain. There was the War of Independence in 1776 and the War of 1812 in 1812. But how many know anything about the Pig War between America and the mother country?

Over the centuries America has had its problems resolving border disputes between itself and Britain and/or Canada. After all, the border is 5,525 miles long and not, as it seems, a straight line. In the Pacific Northwest, the boundary weaves its way through a large chain of islands and it has not always been sure just which island went with which nation.

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Horse Manure Stories Involving Krupp, the Kaiser, & My Amish Neighbor

One of my Amish neighbors just opened a harness shop and I was offered a tour. Afterward, I thought he’d be interested in knowing the history of E.L. McClain and his invention of a hinged collar and the manufacturer of collars and horse pads. He said he’d heard that Greenfield’s high school had been built by a millionaire but wasn’t aware of the source of the wealth. We both learned a little something and he sincerely enjoyed the story about McClain’s collars.

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Where’d You Guys Learn to Shag?

First of all, we’re not talking Austin Power’s shag here, we’re talking about popular dances! As a kid growing up in Greenfield, OH in the 1950s being able to jitterbug earned you just a little higher step on the socially desirable ladder. We waltzed, we foxtrotted, we twisted, we strolled, but those who were really cool jitterbugged and we jitterbugged differently than what we thought anyone else did.

You could, as we did, run home after school and catch American Bandstand and those Philadelphia kids just weren’t cool because they didn’t jitterbug as we did. Their steps just weren’t as smooth and crisp as ours and there wasn’t the refined coordination between partners like there was with us.

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California, Busted, and Headed East

When I left Ohio for California in 1964 the old slogan was California or Bust! Since the 1840s California had been considered the land of golden opportunity and that’s pretty close to what I found there. I found immediate employment and access to affordable education. I also found this and more at a price that was within my economic means.

I haven’t been in the Golden State since 1970 but I’ve kept tabs on what the years have brought. Mostly time has brought more people, more traffic, and the cost of living that is becoming increasingly less affordable for working class people. In 1968 a nice two-bedroom starter home could be had for around $40,000. Ten years later that same home was selling for over $100,000. A quick Google of current prices indicates it would take a half a million, or more. The same home in Greenfield, OH can be had for around $80,000.

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Reprise of Thoughts as I Neared my 60th Birthday

I’ve recently been scouring through things I’ve written over the years since retiring from teaching. I came across the following that I penned as I neared my sixtieth birthday. Well, In a few days I’ll turn seventy-seven and I decided to reprise this list of seventeen years ago.


As my sixtieth birthday approached I began thinking about what being sixty meant. If anything it certainly means you’ve lived long enough to have reached a few conclusions or truths about life, people, places, government, etc. With this in mind, I took a tape

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Capt. Rambo the Cape Crusader!

This story came out of a chain of events. On Facebook, several of us were talking about the late Mac Wiseman and how his voice was so unique and that led me to think about Texas songwriter Guy Clark, who also had a unique and warm voice. I then went to YouTube and came upon a video of Clark singing “The Cape.” The lyrics of Clark’s song brought back a memory of Tom Rambo and several of us neighborhood kids reenacting something we’d seen in a movie serial.

There was a Saturday matinee serial featuring some guys who flew around in phony looking spaceships wearing something that resembled a two-gallon bucket on their heads and capes that attached to their necks and ran down their backs attaching to the wrists and ankles. When they saw something bad happening on the ground they zoom down in their rocket, open the side door, and leap into the air with their arms and legs spread out akin to a flying squirrel. They’d then swoop onto the bad guys, subdue them, and save the day.

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Amish Reality; There’s Just No Shortage of Ignorance

A fellow I know solicited input on Facebook about area builders who do pole barns. Several suggested contractors were named and I suggested a local Amish contractor who I know to be hardworking, honest, and dependable.

The very next response was from a person claiming that, “the amish [sic] charge double of what anyone else would. And the money you pay them doesnt [sic] go back into our infrustructure [sic]. So keep that in mind when you hit a pothole on your way to work.” The next post after that was, “…sometimes they are cheaper because alot [sic] of them have 10-12 year old working and they don’t pay workers comp insurance or into social security. And they fill up the waiting rooms everywhere they are offering free health services eye exams or dental care.”

Several things immediately came to mind. First, neither have mastered basic punctuation, spelling, and the rules for capitalization. Secondly, both are obviously prejudiced and biased against the Amish and I’ll assume the Mennonites as well. And lastly, they are both just plain ignorant of reality.
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Which Company is Your Favorite & Not so Favorite?

I recently received a news feed that I found interesting. Not important, just interesting. The Axios-Harris Poll did a study of what companies are preferred most by Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.

For example, Democrats for whatever reasons prefer buying products made by Kraft-Heinz while the favorite GOP product is Chick-fil-A. I can only suppose that the John Kerry connection to Heinz explains the Democratic choice and the Chick’s opposition to all things same-sex draws the loyalty of the moral high ground crowd.

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Talking Black in America

Over the weekend my wife and I watched a PBS special titled, Talking Black in America. It dealt with the untold number of African American dialects spoken in America and how it all came to be. I was especially impressed with how important language is in black history and culture and how versatile many are in switching back and forth between standard-English and African American English.

It reminded me of a time I was in a fast food line near the Mexican border and how the clerk had was so adept at switching between English and Spanish. My brain has never been that flexible.

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The Olde Barbershop of Yore!

For some reason, I got to thinking about old barbershops while washing my hair this morning. When I was a kid the thing was to wash your hair and then splash on a ton of hair oil or tonic before combing. When you got a haircut the barber did the same. Before running a comb through your hair he’d splash on a generous dose of some very sweet smelling oil.  The wet head certainly wasn’t dead in the 1950s.

One fad during that era was the flattop and it too had its own petroleum-based product, Butch Wax. The barber would meticulously get your top hairs short and level and then to hold it all upright, in defiance of gravity, he’d slap on a large glob of some gooey gel that your mother would play hell getting washed out of the pillowcases.
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Interesting Bits of News

  1. Seventy-six percent of registered voters support the wealthiest Americans paying more taxes, according to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll. This largely jives with a Fox News poll that showed 70 percent in favor of increased taxes on those earning more than $10 million. The polls come as 2020 contenders put forward and debate new levies on the rich. [Politico]
  2. In addition to his acting chief of staff, attorney general, defense secretary, interior secretary, Office of Management and Budget director and Environmental Protection Agency chief, only 54 percent of President Trump’s civilian executive branch nominations have been confirmed, according to estimates by the Partnership for Public Service. That compares, for example, to 77 percent for President Barack Obama at a similar point in his presidency. The group also estimates that fewer than half of the key positions in the Labor, Justice and Interior departments are filled. [The Washington Post]
  3. In New Orleans, home of the robbed Saints, the front page of The Times-Picayune on Monday consisted only of five words: “Super Bowl? What Super Bowl?” [Huffington Post]

Mama Chapman’s Pies, The Bad & Good

Just about everyone has a story about their grandmother’s pies. Well, I’m no different and story-wise, I’m lucky enough to have two.

My grandmother Chapman was known to adults as Mrs. Annie and to us kids as Mama. She lived in Greenville, SC and during several summers I’d got a chance to stay with her for a week. She was a stereotypical looking grandma of the Granny Clampett style. She was very loving and kind with only two faults. One was her fervent fundamental Pentecostal religion and the other her firmly held, but mistaken, belief that my favorite pie was her version of lemon meringue.

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Threre’s One Under Every Rock!

Back in 2004, I was in the Big Bend area of SW Texas. That area is about as unwelcoming as a place as is yet it has a kind of beauty unlike anything found here in Southern Ohio. I was watching a video taken from the veranda of an old abandoned ghost town mansion that was being used as a two-room B&B. The sunrises and sunsets were spectacular and even during the day, the light changes the color and shapes of the hills and canyons. Every day is different as is every moment of every day. Except for the heat that veranda would be a wonderful place to sip a cold one and watch it all unfold.

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More Signs of Getting Old

When my clock landed on seventy  I began taking note of what being a senior citizen involved. Like all phases of my life, I see this one as just another chapter in the book. I’ve pretty much accepted each chapter and enjoyed turning the pages. I think my only fear is still having a life while having no quality of life. But in the meanwhile, here’s a few of the aging thing I noticed most recently.

  • I’ve always loved to travel but in the past year or so, I’ve not been willing to venture too far from my family doctor and the medical community I’m familiar with.  Even twenty years younger I didn’t want to get too far from a Walmart and a hospital. On two Florida fishing trips, I ended up in an ER and had to get back home under adverse conditions, including a severely broken shoulder. These days going to Columbus may be too far.
  • For much of my life, I’ve heard warnings that young children and the elderly should take certain precautions such as, be sure to get your flu shot, pneumonia can be deadly for geezers so be sure to get your pneumonia shot, or colon cancer is the silent killer so with a smile say  “I’d love it”  when a proctologist asks to shove a ten-foot rubber hose up your butt.
  • A sure sign of old age and one that slowly creeps up on you is losing most connections to popular culture. Just watch the Grammy Awards or sit around listening to your grandchildren talk about what they’re doing for entertainment. You know you’re old when it all sounds like Swahili.
  • Somewhere along life’s journey waitresses and nurses began calling me honey or sweety. I’m probably on the same page with Andy Rooney with that one. Look girly, my name is Larry or Mr. Chapman. Hell, I’d even be okay with gramps.
  • One I do enjoy is having young people hold doors open for me and calling me sir. If I could only get them to salute as I pass by.