Friday, February 28, 2014

February 28, 2014

Technically, if you ask the insurance company actuaries, today is my 85th birthday.  Don't you worry if you missed sending me a birthday card.  My actual birthday is not until the 28th of August, but since the February date represents six months past the actual date of an insured's birth, they declare you to be the age you will become on your next anniversary.  Don't worry, it's just their way of increasing your "investment".  And don't worry if you think it is unfair; it is just the way it is.  Life moves on....

Well, you could say that I received a birthday present, early, yesterday.  I watched our President on TV announcing another new program, but don't fret, it won't cost you a dime.  As a matter of fact, in my opinion, it could - possibly, save you some money, in the form of tax dollars you might not be spending.

This new program, entitled "My Brother's Keeper" is based on the President's realization that he suffered through many of the same obstacles facing far too many of our young "black" brothers.  In my words, they face an identity crisis and it has become a fact of life in too many homes in America.

Yes, I know, I faced similar struggles when I was young, but I was not black, but white, and tho people who could help me were generous in their contributions.  There was seldom any reluctance on their part.   Then, I learned about such problems while I was in the Air Force and because of my job as a Personnel technician on our base in Japan, I was instructed to help with the integration of blacks into the routines of what had been, an all white organization.

At first, I was rather apprehensive; in fact, a Master Sergeant who out ranked me in our offices assured me that integration would never work.  Well, it did work, thanks to the quality of black airmen assigned to our base.  They were - as a matter of fact, some of the finest men I have ever worked with.  Three of them would become my life long friends.   Remember now, I was a white boy raised in an all-white farm community in Michigan.  I had never seen a black person up close until those men came into my life.

Then, I chose to attend college at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA in 1953.  It was not long before the Supreme Court ruled on the Brown vs. Board of Education case, granting blacks the right to attend schools that had previously rejected blacks.  Working, part time, in a local department store, I was shocked to hear the responses of my all white co-workers on the day that decision was announced.
Had I not been recently married and was intent of earning a college degree, I would have been ready to join my brothers and sisters in the struggle to gain their dignity in the Southern states.  As it was, I made a decision that I would never cease to promote racial equality, wherever, whenever, and I am proud to say I have never reneged on that vow.

The fact that we have a black couple as leaders in a nation that came together agreeing to the premise that all peoples are created equal in the site of God, it should be obvious that we should all agree that this thought be uppermost in our thoughts and intentions.  Unfortunately, it is not.

Therefore, our President has acted on our behalf.  He has not asked us to join with him, financially, as he asked many of our nation's leading organizations and employers to do, but if we are agreed that - in spite of our often publicized differences, we need to right the wrongs experienced by too many blacks, then this is our opportunity to help.  That is my prayer that we will do so without even a murmur of discontent.  We have had more than enough of political wrangling in recent years.

As I learned so many years ago, thanks to a high school Commercial teacher who assumed he could teach me to type by having us repeat the following, over and over and over again - "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of our country," I think these words say what needs to be said.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

February 27, 2014

Yesterday, I talked about Tom Friedman's article in the NY Times and based on the response I received, not many of you were that interested.  Hate to realize that as the column was meant to alert friends to the realities of the world in which we live.   Remember folks, it is our responsibility.

I had the same thoughts as I read Albert Mohler's response to the times in which we live in an address to the Mormon church.  Oh, if only I could discover what prompted this relationship.  For those who do not know who Reverend Mohler is, he currently is the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, located in Louisville, KY.  As such, he speaks for the overwhelming number of Southern Baptists in our nation and more importantly, our Baptist friends and neighbors.

He starts his speech with these intriguing words, "I come as one who does not share your theology."

I do not care to demean the man, but it seems to me, the fact that our "theology" is divided should not be laid at the feet of others as he reveals - at least to me, that they have - perhaps, intentionally, divided the body of Christ, as it is, here today.  He warns the Mormons that "we had better talk with candor and

Then he drags out old Karl Marx who is reported to have said, "...the modern age would sweep all conventional morality and political structures aside in a complete transformation of values."  If we have studied history, most of us realize that Marx died and was buried and most of this thoughts about the future were interred along with his body.

Based on his reference to Marx, he recalls Aleksandr Solzhenisyn, a more renowned Russian, who reminded us that, "Men have forgotten God."  Actually, even that is little more than a half truth as women have also forgotten God, and because men and women form families, children and grand children have forgotten God.

I grew up in a family where my grandfather and grandmother knew God and lived out their lives in such a belief.  From my earliest days, we attended church and there were various Pastors who would come to serve our country church, but it was not the person of a Pastor, but the words of the Bible they heard in his messages that inspired them to live out their lives.  It was their example that instilled in me a belief in God.  When I left their home to join the military, I kept right on attending chapel, but now I might be listening to men who may have opened their Bibles, but the words in their sermons often led me to explore thoughts that later I would learn, were not inspired by the Bible.  And in the decades that followed, I would discover that more often than not, I would be listening to personal opinions rather than the eternal truths found in the Bible.

Then. Dr. Mohler turns to his belief that there are the elites who are more "classically secularized" and lays the blame for our short comings on plans developed for European ears and the ages old cliche, the American Universities.

Nothing troubles me more than such accusations.  As a University graduate myself and as one who has earned my living as a personnel recruiter, I have interviewed thousands of university graduates in my life and the numbers of those who have been corrupted by liberalism has been insignificant.

On the other hand, I have also interviewed hundreds upon hundreds of "street" people who have told me of the "divisions" in their lives that were primarily caused by a church that dictated their life styles
and demanded allegiance to the words being "parroted" by their families.  Sadly, so that many could not return home in a manner such as  the Bible teaches in the parable of the prodigal Son, but continue living, never knowing of the lesson in love that is the foundation of that parable.

It wasn't long before he turned to the 50 million American babies aborted since the passage of Roe vs. Wade in 1973.  No one grieves more for the enormity of this tragedy than I do as I near my 85th birth date, but I have yet to see an analysis of this problem that reveals that the huge majority of the abortions involved young people who now realize they have made an enormous mistake.  That fact is that the overwhelming numbers of these young women have never heard what the Bible actually says about - loving one another as a lifestyle.  I could spend hours debating the fact that "Roe v. Wade" is not the cause for blame, but another example of the failure of the Church to teach their followers the whole truth to be learned by STUDYING the Bible, taught by those who have EXPERIENCED the truths to be discovered.

We should not be surprised to learn that Dr. Mohler would turn his attention to the faults of the United Nations.  Obviously, he has never studied the differences between those nations who represent people who have experienced the freedoms enjoyed by the more prosperous and those that are led by leaders whose appetites for personal prestige and rewards far exceed any interest in the dignity of the general population.  But then, he obviously stands among the elites of the nations whose only real concerns for the disadvantages of others is their labor while extracting their resources.

I could go and on and on concerning this speech, but that would be wasting your time and mine.  If I had the opportunity, I would love to walk through the Bible with Dr. Mohler, from the days of Joshua to what we know as the New testament and show him how he has misinterpreted the words of God, as expressed by those called by His name.

And I leave you with this apology I will offer to Dr. Mohler for not saying what I really would like to say to him as I believe he is one of those leading us to the future he fears.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Let's look at the world in which we live, seriously

February 26, 2014

If you were here yesterday and noticed the date, you might be confused by the date I am using today.  Actually, today is the 26th.  You can chalk up my error yesterday to the fact, I am new at this, very new.  But as you are about to see, I am still intent on offering my opinions, based on what I have learned over my eighty plus years.

The most obvious lesson is the fact that I am slow at realizing I left the "bold" key on.

Today, I had the choice on two important articles that came through my computer today.  One was another lecture from a man who really troubles me, Albert Mohler.  If you don't know of him, I would have to say, you are blessed - but I will get back to his thoughts.  My choice today is an article appearing in the New York Times, today.  Yes, I know, you may not like the  New York Times and especially, Thomas Friedman.  Well, I happen to like both; one, because the Times covers most of the real news - daily, and provides space for Friedman who seems to understand the times in which we live, better than the rest of the self-proclaimed arbiters.

Today, Friedman is quoting Professor of Foreign Policy at John Hopkins University, Michael Mandelbaum:  "The biggest geopolitical divide in the world today is between those countries who want their States to be powerful and those countries who want their people to be prosperous."

The first are those States like Russia, Iran and North Korea and because they have the resources to drive their desires, oil and nuclear power, they can trade for the materials they do not have in abundance.  The others are like those in Nafta, the European Union, the Mercosur trade bloc in Latin America and Asean in Asia.  I stop here as its my opinion that most of us have little real knowledge  of Nafta, the Mercosur trade bloc, nor Asean.

I scan lots of newspapers, watch a lot of the media outlets, both of them busy trying to convince the public that that they are on top of the trending developments in our world and most of us fail to realize we are merely hearing what others want us to hear - or, worse, the "news" that captures our attention.

Today, it's whether or not the Governor of Arizona will veto the "anti-gay" legislation on her desk. That tells me we would much prefer to see whose religious beliefs will be sustained by the fact she signs the bill or ends its effort to extend bigotry to Main street, USA.

Tomorrow, and most of the days for the time being, it will be to see which political party's chances will be improved in November by the numbers of "suits" facing the news cameras.

It's my prayer that things will not change significantly, because that keeps us busy and we tend to forget there are much more important issues in which we all ought to have our minds focused.  All of that takes me back half a century while helping to elect Herman Talmadge to become Senator from the "great State" of Georgia.  I was young then, very young, and had a mind that absorbed everything I heard, regardless of its source or credibility.  Herman kept reminding us that people vote with their hearts and seldom do they use their minds to determine a political favorite.  Well, to tell you the whole truth, I am being kind to Herman as some of the things he attempted to teach us were not fit for print.  It was a good lesson for me to learn as most of the politicians I have known over the years were not that far removed from Herman's assessments.

That is why I referred you to Friedman's article.  He goes on to discuss his thoughts of Professor Mandelbaum's conclusions and if you are really curious, you will read Friedman, today.  I happen to like what he has to say, but I want to convince you that Talmadge's axiom remains valid, that people vote with their hearts and not necessarily their minds.

If that is a valid conclusion, it ought to remind us of the world in which we live and more importantly, the world in which our children and grandchildren will live.

That is how my votes will be cast.   And you?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Looking into the future

February 26, 2014

Yes, I know, I took a few days off, but I had begun to notice that I was not getting many questions about my early life - after hearing whispers for years which I thought I might help others to understand, so I am sifting gears to address those matters that concern me and hopefully add insight in the media.

I have spent the last few days watching TV and reading a number of the newspaper articles I have been accumulate, I have reached the conclusion - as a nation, as the world at large, we are going nowhere fast and it might seem, we are picking up speed.

Historians will tell you that as a nation, we seem to "live" between crises.  When one occurs, we tend to put our noses to the proverbial grind stone and -  as a result, we accomplish our goals and - in the process, every one seems to feel good.  Then, we tend to relax and the inevitable occurs, we discover another crisis.  I am not talking about the government, I am talking about you and me and our neighbors.

Now I understand, you will probably not agree with my assessment.   I did not expect that you would.

It's not your fault, that is just that we existed in the century in which we were born and raised.

First, there was the aftermath of the Spanish-American war, then World War I and World War II, and Korea and Vietnam and more recently, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I came to being in the early days of World War II and bought into the need to "support of our troops" against the evil intentions of Germany and Japan and it was good that we did respond as we did.

And then we did what "good" people are supposed to do.   While the rank and file of our workers were hard at work rebuilding our nation to meet future demands, while providing for their families, those in our government were active developing relationships with our former enemies.

Then, unfortunately, we decided to get involved in Vietnam for no better reason than to halt what we had perceived to be, the expansion of Communism.   What a terrible, terrible mistake.  You probably have not heard of such an accusation, but then you may have not attempted to discover why certain segments of our population began to demand a share of the pie that others seemed to be gloating over the fact, they were enjoying second and third helpings.  I heard that up close and much too explicit terms when I attempted to join the others who were protesting that war.

Having witnessed the hypocrisy involved in too many of our decisions in Korea, I stopped marching and started studying in earnest.

Then came Osama bin Laden and eventually, 9/11.   The events of Pearl Harbor would fade into the background as we realized the struggles would be more serious than anything we had known in the past.
This war would be fought with bullets and blood, but and even more destructive force would be loosed against us.  We may thing we have won the war on the battle fields, but we have not won the war that will be affecting our lives for generations to come.

It is being played out on the streets where we live as we watch those who were elected - by us, to represent us, wage mock warfare with empty accusations that their opponents are deceiving us and if we do not end this mockery, our nation will fail.   Nonsense!   This nation will no fail until those our forefathers identified as "We, the people" give in and give up.

That is what the election of 2016 will determine.  We have time to prepare.
February 25, 2014

Do you ever get up in the morning and wonder - why am I here?  Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing?  Such thoughts tried to take hold of me this morning.

As usual, I got up from my bed, nowhere to go, nothing to do, really, and so as I have been doing for a long time now, I switch on Channel 4 (NBC) and watch for something good to happen.  Can you imagine, having a television program, program your day.

We used to do that, Derlene and I, but we had those memorable moments where we wouls pause and chose to discuss our day and often, many of our yesterdays, but now she 's not here, so I search for meaning and today, I discovered it in an unusual manner.

My problem with early morning TV is that they tend to talk a lot and say - nothing.

That was my feeling as I was watching Channel 4, so I switched to Channel 2.

You know I believe in God.   Without Him in my life I would not be here in this moment.

Well Channel 2 was introducing Dierks Bentley, a country voice with a guitar, and he was about to sing a new song, certainly one that I had never heard before.  For some reason I was drawn to watch him get ready and suddenly, I was hearing these words..."it's the miles that make a man..."  I didn't hear many of the other words as it is getting difficult for me to hear what others are saying.  Bless the computer, I can read what others write.

I was so taken by these words of wisdom coming from a celebrity, that I had to listen to see if I could understand the title and there it was, "I Hold On".  Would you believe, even those are words that I have often used to describe the possibility that in August, I will be celebrating my 85th birthday.

So, I "Googled" Bentley's name and got to hear the words without the noise you hear on TV, far too often in my opinion.

And there was the title of the album, "A Child of Christian Blood" on my TV.  At least I thought that was it as it looked like an album cover with that title.  To be certain, I "Googled" it and all I found was a book written about history in the years of Tsarist Russia.

More research reveals that his album is entitled, "I Hold On" as a matter of fact.

So, what did I see?   I like to say, "God moves in mysterious ways..." and maybe, who knows, He would have me think more about my responsibility to be, in fact, a child of Christian blood.

Have a great day.  You better know, I am deep into mine.

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014

    "Life on the road"

    February 20, 2014

    If you believe that I knew where I was going, you are mistaken.  I was headed North and placing myself at the mercy of anyone who would stop and offer a ride.

    The first one was a pick-up loaded with tomatoes and operated by three Hispanics.  It was getting dark and I was grateful for the offer.  Of course they filled the cab and I was riding in the bed of the pick-up.
    All went well until they broke down about an hour later.  They got out cursing and one was holding a knife in his hand.  ""What now, Lord?"   I have no idea of their intentions and I wasn't about to stick around.  "Adios" I shouted and headed on up the road.  Fortunately, a truck came by and I waved him down and told them him of my previous "ride".  He laughed, told me he was not authorized to pick up hitch hikers, but he would take me to the next truck stop and see if he couldn't find me a ride, heading in towards Missouri which by now I had decided would be a good place to stop and look for others.

    One of my new found friend's friend told me he could take me to Springfield the next day, but he was going to sleep at the truck stop first.   I was waiting outside the lunch room when a waitress came out for a smoke "break" and wondered why I was there.  When she found out I was waiting on that other truck, she left and came back with a "pass" which allowed me to sleep in their bunk house.  The next morning I was on my way again.   In Springfield, I found a "mission" where I could eat and sleep and I not only found a paying job for the next day, the owner of the company I was working for offered me a job of cleaning up around his house over the weekend.  He paid me twice as much as I had earned on his payroll and fixed up a place where I could sleep in his barn.

    I went to church with his family and told them of what I was doing and they gave me their address so I could stay in touch with them and permission to call them "collect" as I went along my way.

    A fellow told me there was lots of work in Kansas City, so after working on Monday, I headed up to  what I thought might be a better location.  So much for my thinking.  When I got there it was raining and cold - in July, so I headed for a larger Mission.  It was dry but I was about to be frightened unlike any-thing I had ever experienced before.  We had to listen to a sermon, standard practice in most Missions and the text the preacher used was John 8:32 - " shall know the truth and the truth will set you free."   I will never forget it.   After the sermon we were fed a bowl of watered down gruel and herded into a small room with a window up over a door that had been barricaded.   Twenty one black men and me and that was OK until they locked the door behind us.   My first reaction - "What if there is a fire?"
    I slept very little that night.  And when they finally let us out, I literally ran out of that place and in the process, stepped off a curb, fell and twisted my leg on my way to the street.

    Fortunately, the freeway was close so my leg was OK until I stood for a few minutes, trying to hitch a ride.  Fortunately, a little roadster stopped and the driver asked me where I was headed.  "St. Louis" popped into my mind and he replied, "Get in, I'll be passing through there is a few hours."  Along the way I would learn that he was an Air Force Chaplain, a Catholic, and we spent the time talking about religion, the Air Force, and life in general.  I was so interested in his opinions that I hardly noticed that my leg had begun to swell up.  He offered to buy me lunch at the intersection where he would be heading South. but I pointed to my leg and told him I was changing my mind.  I would head towards Michigan and stay with my Uncle and Aunt until I was better.

    By the time I got there (Port Huron, MI), my leg was much better and they were not at home, so I laid back on a lawn chair and fell asleep.  Imagine their surprise when they came home from the grocery store and found  me laying there - as if I might be dead.  At first, they did not recognize me, it had been twenty years since we had been together.

    After a few days with family, I was back on the road, this time headed in the direction of  Charlotte, NC, but because of the available rides, I would up in a river town East of Cincinnati, OH, where I met a man who worked on the river boats between that area and St. Louis and he suggested I might like to get a job on one of the boats.  I made an application and spent time around that area picking up small jobs and began attending church services whenever they were available.  By this time I had a routine in mind that I stayed with for the rest of my time.

    The river boat job did not come open, so I headed South again, this time winding up in Beckley, W Va where I met a Pastor who was having family problems and I stayed with him, handling most of the church responsibilities except for preaching.  His wife and he reconciled their differences and now he wanted me to go to Seminary as he was convinced I would make a good Pastor.  To prove his point, we scheduled "revival" services and I did, indeed, preach some of the services.  Unfortunately, as soon as the Seminary heard that I had been divorced and was not living with the Mother of our children, they rejected the application.  When I decided to move on I thought again of Charlotte and the Pastor chose to drive me over and get me settled in - he was not convinced that life "on the road" was good for a man in his 50's.  We would remain good friends for a few years, but the last time I called him, I would learn that he had suffered a heart attack and died.

    I found that jobs were easy to find in Charlotte and of course, there were lots of churches to visit.  My favorite job was as a temporary working in a Coca Cola plant.  There a supervisor took a liking to my work regimen and had me "run" a test line where they were evaluating new products and all I had to do was to keep the area clean and when they had a new or revised product to run, I would operate the line. It was an easy job, but others they had hired to do it apparently could not do what needed to be done.

    While I was there I lived in the YMCA dormitory which brought me in touch with a number of guys who were there because of family problems or court orders and so I had lots of opportunities to hone my counselling or interviewing skills.

    I did also meet a gentleman at a meeting his wife wanted him to attend, but being bored, he went out on a patio to smoke.  I noticed him and decided to join him and wound up with a relationship that made all of my "wandering" worthwhile.  He was a rich man, had either built or bought several companies in his life and now, he wanted to retire and enjoy life with his wife and delinquent daughter.  To make a much longer story shorter, he would invite me to come and live with his wife and he on the coast in Florida. It was a fascinating offer and I was ready to move on.  They stayed another day while I got my clothes packed and we were on our way.  He let his wife drive and he and I sat in the rear sear and talked.  At the restaurants where we stopped to eat, she would take over the talking and by the time we arrived in Florida, we were close friends.  He paid me to live in their guest house and we talked, and talked, and finally I convinced the two of them to travel.  They settled on Europe, leased a chalet in Switzerland and traveled all over Continent.  Meanwhile, I was left with their house but then the daughter appeared one day with the news that she was leaving her Doctor husband and moving in with me.  Not me.  She had been an alcoholic and I wanted no part of that.  So, I left.  I had called her parents, but learned they were away.  I left a message and didn't hear from then until she called to let me know my friend had a heart attack and died.  The last I heard from her, she had renewed their lease and she had no plans to return to the States.

    That's part of this story.  More will be revealed as I talk about my experiences with churches along the way and the impressions I got from having heart-to-heart talk with many of the Ministers I met along the way.  But the greatest thing I ever learned was this nation has a diversity of people that even the most educated among us seems to comprehend.  I used to believe that would account for the promise of our future, but to be honest with you, I am no longer certain of that.
    February 19, 2014

    The last post left you at a bus station in Tulsa, OK, hanging up from a phone call where I learned that the man I had come to see, hoping that he could help me get past the experiences of my life in California, was not available and would not be available for at least two more weeks.

    What was I to do?  I knew no one in Tulsa to help and I was nearly broke.  It was then I remembered that we had passed a "labor pool" as the bus was headed for the station.  I decided I would try working on the "wrong" side of the desk.  I knew it was late, most of the available jobs were filled.  I would have to wait and so I took a seat after filling out their brief application card,  It was 9:30 AM, I would wait until almost 2PM before the dispatcher asked me if I could count.  It turned out that he needed someone to help with an inventory at a nearby company.  Thank you, Lord.

    The job was rather simple but there were hundreds of items to be counted.  I went to work.  At 5PM the "boss" asked if I would like to work overtime.  Sure!   And so I worked until 8PM and was told they wanted me back tomorrow.  The boss asked me where I lived and I had to confess I would be looking for a place.  He told me of a downtown motel that was cheap; he seemed to understand my dilemma and handed by a $20 bill to pay for my rent.

    That was Monday and as it turned out, I worked all week - 40 hours, and when I got paid by the labor office, I tried to repay the $20 the boss had loaned me and he smiled and said, "Forget it, that was the best investment we have ever made" and then he handled me a company check for $50, claiming that I had earned it.

    I walked up the street feeling good about myself and as I passed a cocktail lounge, I thought I would stop and have a beer.  "After all," I thought to myself, "a laborer is entitled to relax after working all week."  Funny, as I tried to open the door, it appeared to be locked.  I tried again, and tried again.  I had heard voices within and was puzzled but just as I started to walk away, two couples walked up and opened the door I thought had been locked.  I started for follow then and then I remembered my question about my need to repent.  Maybe, the door just seemed to be locked to me for a reason.

    I walked on to the YMCA and paid a week's rent and when I got to my room, I opened my Bible again to see if  I could find an explanation, but there was none.  The next morning, Saturday, after eating my breakfast at a nearby diner, I decided to ride a bus out to the ORU campus.  It was as beautiful as I had thought it would be.  Just sitting on a park bench, I felt better thanI had felt for months.  I noticed there was a book store nearby and decided to see if Oral might have written something related to my recent experience or, the experiences in my past.  I did not find one, but glancing at a jewelry display I saw an item I liked and picked it up and noticed the card to which it had been attached.  It was a Bible verse, Acts 1:8, ..."you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be My witnesses.."   I had already picked out a church I would attend the next day, so I bought the item and put the card in my pocket as a reminder to ask someone what that verse might possibly mean to me.

    Would you believe, the text the Pastor had chosen for his sermon was the one I had noticed the day before.  I sat in my pew hanging on his every word.  I knew that I knew I had found a church home as it would be for the next two years.  But I was about to have my world turned upside down.

    I had left instructions with the CA State people in the office that monitored the homes in which we had placed the children temporarily, that I would let them know when I would be returning.  I was about to be shocked beyond my comprehension.  My wife had been released from prison and regained custody of our children.  I hired a lawyer to investigate the reasons for that decision by the State and he had to tell me there was nothing we could do from Oklahoma.  I decided to wait until after I had accomplished the purpose of my journey.

    As it turned, that would never happen.  I began to speak with elders in my new church home and it was their counsel that I stay in Tulsa, work if I could find a job, and wait to see what happened with our children.  It would be a long wait.

    Meanwhile, it seemed, I had new power as every place I turned to for employment, I was hired and it went from good to opportunities beyond anything I had experienced in California.  Eventually, I would find an even better opportunity in Dallas, TX, and so I moved there.  Unfortunately, it would not turn out to be as good as it had sounded, but while there, I met a number of good friends, some of whom had other opportunities and so it went on and on.  Finally, I made a deal that paid me a lot of money and I had a plan.  I would sell my equity in a business I had helped to establish and send the receipts to the State of California to maintain my obligations for child support until there was no further responsibility.

    By this time, I considered myself to be an authority on what the Bible had to say and I had been looking for the possibility of joining an established training company or similar organization.  I prayed and asked God, what He would have me to do.  A word of advice to those reading these words, don't ever ask God for such counsel unless you are prepared to do what He asks you to do or go where He asks you to go.

    Clearly I heard Him say, :"Go, be with my people."

    The only interpretation I could make was to consider my thoughts in years past.  As a Manager of a "labor" office in Los Angeles, I used to wonder why grown men, many well educated, would get in such a situation in life where they had to work for minimum wage, paid daily.  It has always troubled me that in a nation as prosperous as we have become could ignore the circumstances of such people and worse, those without sufficient educational preparation to find a better job for themselves.  I knew what I had to do, I knew where He wanted me to go.

    With that I literally walked out of Dallas on a blazing hot July afternoon, wearing nothing more than a shirt, jeans and a pair of "penny" loafers, no hat, carrying nothing but my Bible.  I was heading North to be with His people.

    I really had given no thought to money, what I might need, what a reasonable person would have taken with him or her.  I just had a confidence that God would provide and He did, for over two and half years and it would have continued, but then there was this lady who dared to declare, long before she knew anything about me, that she loved me and wanted to marry me.  But that is another story for yet another day.

    Saturday, February 15, 2014

    February 15, 2014

    It was May 10, 1975, Saturday, tomorrow would be Mother's Day, only there would not be any cards, any telephone calls, we were not on the same page, regarding either of our lives.  Today, I was on a bus headed for Tulsa, OK, hoping to find answers for my life so that I could get on with it.

    Night was falling and we were crossing the desert, in route to Phoenix, AZ.  I had always loved seeing the desert as the sun came up; now, I was enjoying it as the sun was setting.  Beautiful.. peaceful...

    I went to sleep, awoke as we were pulling into the bus station.  Time for breakfast.  Afterwards, we were headed towards Flagstaff, such a beautiful day.  I began to realize that I was going to meet with a "man of God" who probably would have forgotten more about the Bible than I had ever learned.  I had an opportunity to review what I did know.  I knew about the "red" letters, the words that Jesus used as He moved about.  I looked for the "red" letters where he started His ministry - Matthew 4:17.

    "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  I had learned a lot about His origin, I knew that He was God incarnate, so I could understand most of what He was saying, but - repent?  What did that mean?  I had been attending church for most of my life, but I could not recall ever hearing anyone talk about the need to - repent.   I looked out of the window in the direction the bus was travelling and in the distance I could see a mountain.  I looked at it for a few minutes and decided to ask of the mountain, "God, if you are there, tell me about this word, repent."

    I cannot recall how long it took, but soon after I asked that question, I began to think of life on the farm, of the days when I felt like I had been abandoned by my Mother, and the arguments I had overheard between my Mother and my Grandfather concerning the costs of my care and the times I had seen my Mother come to the farm dressed in such fancy clothes, often in the company of men dressed in fancy clothes and the tears I had shed, wondering why my pals all had Fathers except me.  And now I was thinking about my feelings toward my Mother.  She never seemed like a Mother.   I compared her to her younger Sister who always seemed to care for me; often it seemed, out of pity for me.  I began to realize, I had very little love for her as a Mother.  And now in this moment on the bus, I began to realize how wrong I had been as I knew nothing of the life she had to live after the death of my Father. Now, I realized, I had reason to repent and I burst into tears, pleading with God to forgive me.

    To my amazement, the day had passed, the sun had set and now it was raining.  As the lightning flashed in the distance, I looked more closely at the window and it seemed, the wind had rolled the water up and it was passing across the window, washing the dirt away   I was fascinated by this experience.

    And then I recalled an old song from my distant past that went something like this, ..." your sins have been washed away and you have been made whiter than snow.'  I burst out crying and sobbing, I asked "Can this be true?"  And it was like all of heaven applauded..

    Before I noticed that phenomenon of the wind and the water and the window, I had tried to turn on the overhead light so I might read more of my Bible.  It did not work.  Now, an hour or two later, I tried again and now, it worked.  Again the tears flowed.  Something had happened, but what?

    I knew the answers would be found in my Bible so I started reading and the more I read, the more eager I was to read even more. It was so exciting.  I would discover familiar passages that now made real sense to me and then discover questions, I had often asked of others, now followed by answers I had longed to hear.

    It wasn't long before we pulled into a rest stop in Elk City, OK.  I hurried to the restaurant, not stopping to realize, I had very little money in my pocket.  As I came through the door, the waitress looked at me and said, "My, you look bright and chipper this morning" and I replied, "I think I have been 'born again.'
    and she replied, "Well, praise the Lord, sit right down and I'll fix you a breakfast worthy of your new calling."  I didn't order.  She brought me steak and eggs and biscuits and I began to wonder if I had enough to pay her.  "No way," she exclaimed, "the Father has already paid me enough."  Well, I left her a tip and moved on.

    All the way into Tulsa, I kept reading and marveling at the experience.  As soon as I got off the bus, I went to a pay phone and called ORU where I hoped to meet my new mentor.  "I'm sorry, but this is Commencement Day and afterwards, he and his wife are leaving on vacation."  "That's OK," I replied, "I think I have been talking with his boss."
    February 10, 2014

    Leaving Georgia and everything that it had meant to me, I headed West, to St. Louis where I was to realize there was nothing there for me, old friends, no longer even acquaintances.  Onward, California seemed to be a good idea, at least an opportunity to be with my Sister and perhaps, discover all that we had missed as children growing up in difficult times.  It was the beginning for us...

    Hardly a beginning for me as I discovered how I would enjoy living on the dark side of life, drinking too much, avoiding drugs, but not many of the other temptations.

    Then, I met a man, not personally, but his book, "Think and Grow Rich" by Napolean Hill.  I devoured it, line by line, page by page and vowed, my life could change, my life would change.

    The first step was getting rid of my pride, the cupboard filled with booze.  The next step, a serious attempt to discover what church should mean to me.  After all, I had been "in" church for all of my life, never as a refuge, but as a place where I could discover encouragement to "be" good, great ideas, but something I could never reconcile to being a part of my daily life.

    Now I took it seriously, made good friends, and even better, I thought at the time, a girl who agreed that we ought to be married.  That was a good idea, she was pregnant and in due course, the most beautiful moment in my life, our first daughter was born.  I have never been so proud in all of my life.

    If only my career measured up.  The first thing we knew, it had collapsed.  Because of necessity, we moved in with my sister and new opportunities developed in due course.  Another daughter was on the way, but now there was a problem.  At seven month, her mother's "water" broke and she would be born prematurely.   I would learn the value of brokeness - if there ever was such a word.  It would be weeks before she was home from the hospital and even more visits as she was subject to bouts of pneumonia because of the fact her lungs were not developed as they should have been.

    My employment opportunities seemed to be growing as I was now working for a former boss, a man I thought to be my friend.   Another child came along, this time a boy.

    We were doing well when another tragedy struck.  For reasons still unknown to me, my wife stole mail from our neighbor's mail boxes and used the credit cards she would discover.  She faced ten years in prison and all I could do was stand by her side, praying for mercy.  It came about when the Judge gave her a better option than prison, an opportunity to come home and live a normal life.

    In a sense, it ended my tenure with my employer in the form of a more excellent promise of earnings and a car, to boot.  I accepted the offer and we moved from where we were living.  The job prospects grew and then, another tragedy.  We had moved into an apartment complex and were offered the task of collecting rents with an agreement to lower our rent.  It appeared to be a real opportunity, until...

    Until there was rent money missing.  The management blamed us, of course, I blamed my wife as I knew I was not involved and eventually, the both of us were arrested.  And I almost forgot, along the way, a second son was born.

    Knowing that my wife would surely go to prison as the Judge had promised earlier, so I made the dumbest move I could possibly make.  I plead guilty and was ordered to trial.  Fortunately, the DA's office assigned one of their people to investigate and he asked me to be present as he monitored the accounts of our landlord.  There was no evidence that the "lost" money could be traced to us, so I was encouraged to go to trial without a jury, to let the Judge determine guilt or innocence, based on my testimony and that of the building management.  He ruled that I was NOT guilty.

    Life moved on except for the fact my employer did not seem to agree with the ruling of the courts.  I had been responsible for thousands of dollars we were paying to transient employees and although there was no evidence of shortages in my accounts, I was fired.

    I was offered another job, in the same business, and an opportunity to prove my skills as a manager and sales executive.  I did extremely well as did our company until it was discovered, our management chose to ignore their responsibility to forward the taxes collected from our hundreds of transient employees.  It didn't take long for the IRS to enforce their obligations and the business closed.

    I was never as dismayed as I was when reviewing the recent past.  Fortunately, I did not go back to drinking and I did discover another job with a nice guy who had purchased a franchise in the business with which I was most familiar.  We were doing quite well when my life decided to take the kids and move away.  I can't say that I blamed her as I was probably a disappointment to her, but the move was more than I could handle at the time.

    There is an old adage that "time heals all wounds" (or conversely, wounds all heels) and nothing might be more applicable to our life as the following months would reveal.

    I probably lost credibility with my boss and I could not blame him, so in due course we would part ways.  With such an act pending, I contacted my wife to see if there was any chance at reconciliation.

    There was and I moved to the community where she was living, where my sister was living also, and it wasn't long before I had a new employer; three in fact, as we had enormous bills to pay.  It went well for us except for the fact, it seemed like, every other day I was discovering bills that she had incurred that I had no knowledge of.   I had an offer to work for a company operating in San Diego and we agreed, if we moved there - an ideal community for employment and for the children, it would be the end of stealing and the end of bank accounts opened with the minimum and spending to the maximum.

    We agreed.

    But it didn't take long for promises to disappear.  There would be another invasion of our neighbor's mail boxes and I decided there was no longer any hope for us.  I had assured her I would do nothing to help if such an occasion arose.  I watched as they took her to jail and said nothing.  I did not attend her trial nor did I offer to bring the children to see her when she went to prison for a period of observation.

    What to do for our children was my greatest concern.   They loved their Mother and I was more than just aware of things she had told them about me - lies for the most part, but life had taken its toil on all of us.  I sought counsel with church elders and was devastated when they had no suggestions.  There is no way I can explain my feelings at that point.  I even thought of suicide; even bought a gun, but would wind up throwing it away.   I called a religious group's phone number to share my grief and would up hearing that it would be good if I sat down with their leader to discuss - possibilities.

    Great!  He was in Tulsa, OK and I was in San Diego, CA.  Sounded impossible.  But then, I had a visit from the area "Family Relations" people that had obviously been sent because of what my wife was telling them about me.  We worked through our differences and I brought up the possibility of placing the children on "foster" care for ninety days while I sorted out my options.  They agreed and within a couple of weeks, I was on a bus headed for Tulsa.

    Saturday, February 8, 2014

    February 8, 2014

    For many years, I have admired the talents of Leonard Pitts, the journalist whose columns appear regularly on the pages of the Miami Herald.   I happen to be a white man with a limited number of black friends even though my experiences date back to the 40's when I was given a rare privilege to assist in the integration of blacks into the United States Air Force.  Growing up on a farm in Michigan there had been none in our communities and the only things I had ever heard of them were not kind.  I would soon learn that those remarks were not based on reason, but prejudice.

    So it was when I first encountered Leonard, I was eager to learn even more about the thoughts and intention of blacks and I would soon discover, more often than not, he and I were brothers when it came to assessing the worth of others.  In fact, typically, I was the student sitting at the feet of a master.

    Perhaps you can understand my confusion when I read one of Leonard's latest columns.

    Appearing in the Cookeville Herald-Citizen on February 5, under the title:  "Sincerest sympathy to the filthy rich", it was Pitts' response to a letter written by Tom Perkins, co-founder of a extremely successful enterprise known as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, appearing recently in the Wall Street Journal.  I haven't read the Journal in years because I have been offended by the changes that followed the sale of what used to be - in my opinion, one of the nation's great newspaper, so I don't know all that Perkins had to say, but I can read Pitts' remarks and I am offended.

    Perhaps he had nothing to say about the headline in one of my favorite newspapers, but using the words - filthy rich, suggests to me that it will only be read by those among us who do not seem to realize that among the wealthy in our nation, you will find many who are dedicated to the lives of fellow citizens, folks like you and me and others.

    I have had the distinct privilege to meet people like Tom Perkins in my years and I have reached the conclusion, many are a lot like the people I have met working as a Supervisor in Rescue Missions.
    Given an opportunity to read the pages of the Wall Street Journal and reading Perkins' article, I have to imagine that most would laugh and let others know, ..."if he thinks he has it bad, he ought to walk in my shoes for a few weeks."

    Money makes a difference in the lives of people who have inherited or have earned lots of it and since they can afford the cost, you can believe that many will invest heavily in the resources offered by the legal profession to protect their assets and actually, diminish their liabilities.

    I have also known many who have little to offer in the way of available resources who will purchase an expensive gun to protect what they do have.   I don't see much difference in the two.

    What I do know is the fact that as we store up prejudices concerning others, a little here and a little there along the way, it doesn't take long before we reach the inevitable level that allows us to express attitudes towards others that affirms the title of being a bigot.   And since we live in a democracy based on the premise that we are all created as equals, it ill behooves us to belittle others, regardless of our opinions.

    I believe I understand Leonard's feelings.  He devotes many of his articles and I have to believe, much of his time, calling our attention to the plight of the poor and dis-enfranchised.  I salute such efforts, but I would hope that the next time he feels that way about the "Perkins" in our nation, he will direct an appeal to any of the thousands of the "rich" among us, encouraging them to talk to their peers who have missed out on the opportunities to actually share what they have.

    Friday, February 7, 2014

    February 7, 2014

    When I started in on this blog, it was my intention to review my life experiences and through them, point out how our futures are determined.  Certainly that has been true in my life.

    If you want the details - up through college, you can go back to the first of the week, but let me offer a quick peek.  Born in Detroit, MI, at the offset of the (first) "great Depression", moved to Ohio where my sister was born and my Dad was in car accident that would end his ability to remember and eventually, cause his death.  I moved to Yale, MI, where I lived with my grandparents and graduated from High School.  Joined the USAF, was sent to Japan, served for fifty some months, discharged, graduated from college in Georgia.

    So, there you are.  My "problems" started with my feeling that I did not have a Dad like my class mates had, even though in reality, my Grandfather was one of the finest men I have ever known in all of my years,  I seldom saw my Mother, but my Grandmother treated her first grandson as her own son.  I was blessed by teachers, the one who guided me through the first eight grades and offered to me, personally, insight as to what was really happening in the world around us.  WWII had begun and at first I was scared, but as I aged, I had an urge to join the military and help bring the war to an end.  That was the first I can recall where fantasy began to be my constant companion.  In high school, I discovered there were teachers who really care for their students.  In my case it was our Latin teacher who saw in me an eagerness to excel and continued long after two of her classes.  I was a lead in the Junior class play because of her encouragement.  But these people began to fade into my background as I was faced with decisions and no one near to really encourage me.

    The first real life personal experience concerned a delay in sending me on to Lackland AFB for basic training along with the others who came on the same day.  I was there for a week before the proper connections were made.  In the midst of all this, I was scared and somehow, I was prompted to go into the Base chapel and pray that I could escape the fear that beginning to build.  To my amazement - which lasts to this very hour, I still believe I heard these words, aloud.  I know, I turned around to see if there was another person in the room.  "Do not fear, I will always be with you."  I was even more scared realizing that I had been alone.  I had no real experience in church in my youth even though it was a well established practice in my home.   We went to church on every Sunday morning, in time to attend Sunday School and were back on Wednesday night for prayer services.  The only really thing that I recall was my embarrassment when my Grandfather fell asleep and snored during the Pastor's sermon.

    Basic training was a breeze, up until we learned that they had closed most of the Technical schools as they no longer needed the graduates.  I had no reason to fear going to the Philippine Islands and looked forward to the journey.  Actually, it was good for me as I got to know guys from all over the States, was taught to play card games I had never heard of before.  And there was a most memorable experience that remains as real to me today as it was in the hours aboard ship.  One night, I could not sleep, just imagine trying to sleep with a hundred guys in your bedroom, each one it seemed, having the same problem I had.  Well, I got up, went up on deck and realizing I might be in trouble if anyone saw me, I climbed up as far as I could and sat down against a bulkhead where no one would know.  As I looked up, the sky was brilliant with stars and I now realize, planets I did not know of, shining brightly, as far as you could see in every direction.  In a word, it was awesome.  I don't know how long I sat there observing everything I could take in, until I felt like I could fall asleep.  I would have been in trouble if anyone saw me, so I carefully headed back to where I belonged.  And that vision is with with me to this day.

    I had no problems in the service; in fact, I had been commended several times for my performance.  But when I came home, I began to realize the "gulf" that was obvious between me and others in my family. Oh, there were no problems in the day-to-day exchanges, but it was as if we were living in two different worlds.  I would be going back to wherever I had came from and no one - even my Mother, seemed to care.  Well, I had been apart from them for over seven years, so what difference did it make? Looking back, it made quite a difference in me.  Now, I began to ask questions of the people I would meet, on base and off.  "Tell me about your mother, your father, your brothers and sisters..." and some of them could go on for hours.  Loneliness began to creep into my life.  I began to make up stories about the family I thought had abandoned me and they grew and grew.   Little did I realize how this pattern was taking over my life.

    Living with my Mother after the service was difficult for me and it was probably was for her.  She had never re-married, but had a long time boy friend, who was married with another "home" in another city. We could never talk about that, but my "Sunday School" training caused me to believe, my Mother was wrong.  I stayed away as long as I could and then I met my first wife.  She was really interested in getting married and it wasn't long before I began to think this was an answer to my problems with my Mother.  I was about to get the shock of my life.   I thought I loved my "intended" and so I was happy and thrilled by the prospect of telling my Mother.   Her response, "Sherwood, there has never been a divorce in our family!"   Whoa!   I was not talking about a divorce, I had planned to get married.   I could not share that response with my intended, but it was obvious, my Mother was not going to be pleased with her son's marriage.  Sadly, it is a fact, we would grow further and further apart.  When my marriage came to an end - five years later, any hopes of a relationship with my Mother, seemed to end.

    Ironically, although it never really had anything to do with me, my Mother would be caught in what might be interpreted as a lie many years later.  She had, as a matter of fact, been married much earlier and that marriage ended in an annulment - not a divorce, so she was partially correct in her statement to me.  She would eventually marry her man friend when his wife died, and she would latter confess, "that was the biggest mistake I ever made in my life."

    The facts are, I lost my Father and was never told about it.  Some have told me I was too young to fully understand.   Then, I lost my Mother because, somehow, I was never really very important to her, at least, in my mind and incident upon incident piled up to the point where there was no hope for our recovery.   I say that sadly, because I really loved her.  I was so very proud of her as a youngster for no better reason that she was the most beautiful woman in the world, in my mind.

    Which brings me to the point of this blog.   I have witnessed this scenario play out hundreds if not thousands of times in my life time.   We have reached a point where I honestly believe, marriage as the loving relationship it has been known to be for centuries is becoming an anomaly, irrelevant as a way of life.  And so what does that mean for people like me?  That concerns me.  I was very fortunate.  I was raised in the midst of the most loving relationship I have ever known, personally.  My grandparents were the epitome of everything the poets write about, an eternal relationship.  They had very little in a material sense.  When my grandfather passed away. they found several beautiful shirts, each still packed into their original wrapping.   He didn't need them.  He had other shirts, each one carefully, dutifully and lovingly washed and dried by his "Lilly" and wanted to let her know, by not caring for the others, how much he loved her.   And there was never a day in the many years of their marriage that he ever had to wait on a meal.   Her first order of the day was to care for her husband,

    I am so grateful that I had that experience of living in their home.  I was just a boy, I did not understand all that was happening around me, but I knew that at 4:30 every morning, there were cows to milk and that at the end of the work day, I could be assured that my grandfather would be sitting in his favorite chair trying to read the paper, but losing out to his body's need to sleep and the need to occasionally, snore.   My grandmother, "Nan" to me, would smile and tell me that he's done reading his paper, it's time for bed.

    My real problem in life could always be traced to the fact there was no one around to remind me of what a family is all about.  I had seen it in the life of my grand parents, but I was more enamored by the fact, the other "family" members came and went, driving their newer cars, wearing their fancy clothes and patting me on the head as they left.   All I ever knew for certain, the day would come when I would leave that home and I grew up, always wondering, where would I go?

    I lived with that question for decades of my life.   It never ceased until that fateful day when I was on a Greyhound bus, headed for Tulsa, OK.   But then, that's another story for another day.

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

    February 6, 2014

    Just when I thought I could back on track - reviewing my life in relation to my current beliefs, The Tennessean, Nashville's once bell ringer deluxe, used their headline to declare, "State sets execution date for 10 men."  If you have to wonder, this means they intend to reduce the costs involved in maintaining a "death row" for a few of the State's most infamous citizens.

    What else could it mean?  I have been there, not as an inmate, but as a citizen, concerned for other citizens, regardless of their color or sexual orientation, or other measures by which far too many of my fellow citizens appear to measure the worth of others.

    I have heard all of the answers - primarily that these people killed others and therefore, they are to be killed.  You know, the Bible says, "an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise".  Probably most of the accusers don't really know the rest of these offenses, but they are there in the 21st chapter of Exodus.   Most of us can grasp the rationale for such thoughts coming out of the leaders of the newly formed Israel in those times, but to apply them to 21st century America is a stretch.  I know, ..."the Bible says" but most of us who have actually studied the Bible are not inclined to respond to it, line upon line, letter upon letter.  My own response is that I appreciate the history of the Old Testament, but my sins - and I have to believe, the sins of all my fellow citizens and others beyond our shores, were dealt with on that hill called Calvary.

    I have known many of those making the front page of The Tennessean.  I can assure you if you were to have met them as I have, you would never even guess that they were murderers.  Actually, the man I came to know and claim as more than just a fellow in the faith, killed a man, but as the process continued over twenty plus years, the courts ruled that the original sentence was wrong; that there were in fact, mitigating circumstances, and having served twenty-five years, he is now eligible to go free, dependent on his completion of certain programs established for all capital prisoners.

    I know he is now a changed man.  I know because I am one as well.  I have never been judged as a criminal, but that I attribute to the "amazing" grace of God.  Some only sing the song, I know because I know, it is even more real than I might have imagined.  It took me almost 45 years to come to such an understanding.

    So, I have to wonder why we are want to kill our fellow citizens.  Yes, they have done wrong, but if you support the death sentence, I have to ask, how well do you know each of these men and women?
    If you do not know them, are you confident that the law is just in every incident in which there is a claim that the people on "death row" are guilty.  Would you like to have access to the files that account for all of the circumstances in each case?

    Or, ask yourself, are you certain that you know that each of the accused are incompetent; that they can not change, now even want to?   I was a teenager in the USAF when a fellow I knew as well as any of the 1600 of us on the troop ship took us to Japan.  We were assigned to the same base.  We saw each other every time there was a call for inspection.   He was a nice guy.  I had been transferred to another base when I heard that he had killed another guy, another of those on that same troop ship. He was sentenced to die, but the sentence was changed to life imprisonment by General MacArthur.
    By chance, I was driving by the Leavenworth prison where he was serving his sentence.  I stopped and made a call to the prison and they, in turn, located him and he called me back at my motel.  To make a much longer story shorter, our talk led to an effort to release him because of the skills he had learned that were in demand in California where I was working as a recruiter.  In the course of time and rigorous examination by several parties, he was released and went to work for my client.  I came to know him well, was best man at his wedding and God father to the two girls he fathered.  Sadly the experience ends there.  He never learned to drive and coming home from work, he stepped between two cars and was killed, instantly.

    Perhaps now, you can understand my interest in abolishing the death penalty.  I am not opposed to life sentences, providing the State stops playing political games with our tax dollars and begin to invest them where they could do the most good.   Stop playing these emotional games every time they can broadcast another execution would be a good first step.

    And all of us might start getting serious about our responsibility as citizens.

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

    February 5, 2014

    I am amazed by what appears to be happening to me in recent weeks.   All of a sudden I seem to have a supernatural concern for others; something I cannot really explain and if continues, I will keep writing about it.   A couple of days ago, I was thinking about my next post; actually worried about it as I have been screwing it up as you may have noticed, and then a perfect quote appears in an e-mail that  was really a condensation of what I had wanted to say.

    Now, today, I got a notice that a friend of mine had posted something on her FaceBook page for the rest of us to read.  I will quote her in a minute, but first I had to add my two cents worth and was startled to read a response to my thoughts.  It really made me think.  My comment was rather basic and here is a quote of what another person added:  "But how can we change the hearts of those who are heartless?  We are so few and they are so many?"

    This started with a comment by my friend:  "We as a society want to "blame" someone for our country's lack of 'values'.   As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children to be strong and instill values that will not be swayed, strength and values that they will teach to their children.  If we want to change the world in which we live, we are going to have to change the examples we set and the way we raise the next generation.   It's the only way to make a difference..."

    On second thought, I could have added a simple "Amen" and went about my day.

    It seems to me that Kim (my friend) was right about the 'blame game' that so many among us seem to enjoy; assessing blame to the other guy.  If you read as many newspapers as I do, you will find it common place among a majority of writers in virtually all of their newsworthy articles.   It troubles me because of my age.  I have always liked to think of myself as a world changer, always trying to come up with a better idea to apply to the problems we face, but I don't have that many days left to continue that practice.  And I will be leaving it to my children and a bunch of grandchildren to clean up the mess.   That's not fair.   When I was a child our nation went to war and defeated three other nations that were intent in destroying all that our fore-fathers had created.  They did it in short order and we were able to return to normal.  It appears to me that - as a nation, we are doing very little to clean up the messes created by my generation and the one that followed.  I can understand the thoughts of the person responding to Kim's statement.

    A few years ago I discovered something in my house that I never really noticed.  In fact, there were several and as I became aware of them, I had to stop and examine my own thinking about many of the problems we face.  That "thing" was a mirror.   The "man in the mirror" is responsible for many of these problems.   I began to change my way of thinking.   Since I was not personally responsible for the really big messes, I started looking at them as opportunities.   Rather than fussing at those I thought might be responsible, I began searching for people who were in a position to bring about change.  And I didn't go to them expecting they would; I merely encouraged them to take a closer look at the opportunities and with few exceptions, I was thanked for my interests and heard that they would consider my thoughts.  To this day, I continue this practice.   My prayer is that others might do the same.

    So, to answer the young man with a very serious question, I would have to say that I have seen a few really heartless people in my day.  I used to visit "death row" in Nashville and found within those ranks, a man who had been changed by the experience and worked to educate himself so that now - by the grace of God, his sentence has been overturned and he will soon be released.

    But an overwhelming numbers of the people I have met in the eight plus decades of my life, are just like you and me.   We all have "hearts" and the only thing that will help others to reveal theirs is for you and I, our friends and neighbors, to offer them encouragement.

    Life has taught me that there are ups and downs in the lives we live, some days are better than some others, but as long as we keep an eye in that person we see in the mirror, and offer encouragement, you might you might be surprised to observe how many others are out there.  
    February 4, 2014

    Well now, by now you have discovered that I have learned far too little to be attempting to create an interesting blog, but I have an excellent mentor who is indeed, patient and kind, and most of all, one who encourages me to continue.  So I will, the thought being, I have lived a long time, experienced many things that many will never experience and I come face to face with a world that is rapidly changing and I object, not because it is merely my opinion, but there are some facts that need close examination.

    What I have attempted to do so far is lay out the experiences of my early years where most of my instincts had been honed by the grandparents who provided hearth and home to a little boy who was denied the experiences of a Father and far too often, the absence of a Mother who only seemed to care for her only son.  Looking back on those early years, I still have to wonder how I had arrived at the conclusions that seemed to indicate, I needed to get away from the frustrations of trying to impress others that I was a good boy.

    But now, having traveled half way around this globe on which we all live, grown up in the "man's" world that was the Air Force in those days, and realizing I was poorly prepared to create a future, I walk through the halls of one of nation's most prominent educational institutions, Georgia Tech, and discover my inadequacies.  I had not realized I would be competing for grade marks withe some of the brightest high school graduates in the nation, but I tried.  My first failure was in Algebra, but an older Professor recognized my problem and had me withdraw and re-enter, remedial Algebra.  That really helped and I would pass with a "B" grade.  Then came Physics and here I was an absolute failure.  My classmates could real off answers to the question while I was still trying to interpret the questions.  With that I went to an Adviser who suggested I might consider withdrawing and attending another college where my experiences would be more appropriate.

    I consulted with my VA counselor and he suggested the University of Georgia but a visit reminded me that while it might offer a more appropriate study schedule, the campus seemed to be inundated with "kids" enjoying their first "home" away from home.  On my way back to Atlanta, I met a man who told me about a man he knew, who had been on staff at Georgia Tech but was now opening a new college in downtown Atlanta, to be known as the Atlanta Division of the University of Georgia.  That could be the solution to my concerns and so I was enrolled for the Fall semester.  It was more than a good place to meet my needs, it was convenient and I would discover, the faculty rolls revealed many excellent educators.  I was - at home and my grades reflected my intent to excel.

    One thing, I was older than a majority of the students and I was barely settled in before I was elected as the leader of a number of student groups, which eventually led to my election of the Day School student body.   There was also a Night School student body and since we were good friends, I felt that I was not only getting an education, this "Yankee" boy was being accepted by most of my fellow students.

    I also made a very serious mistake.   Living with my Mother in a one bedroom apartment was not the the most accommodating place for study and absolutely no place to entertain others.   It wasn't long before I met a nice gal who was attending the same church, and nature took its course.   We decided to get married even though she claimed to be five years older.  It wasn't until we were filling out the license application that I noticed, she was not just five years older, but ten.  Looking back, I should have walked away, but I did not.  The farce that would become  the foundation of our marriage would continue for almost five years and I just, left town and never returned.

    Now, I had to look back.  I was a proud and perhaps a bit vain when I left the Air Force.  I looked on college a just another opportunity to succeed as I had in the Air Force and I did not even come close.
    Now, I would be divorced and in those days, most employers looked at this as a sign of potential failure and to be honest, I had not done well in either of the two jobs I had after graduating.

    It was time for an honest personal evaluation.   Looking back today, I wonder why I just continued on as if nothing on importance had happened, other than my success in the military.  Why I did not consider re-enlisting has always confused me.  I could have retired in my early 40's and with a college degree, there were all sorts of opportunities I might have taken advantage of.  But I did not.

    Which brings me to the reason for creating this blog.   I am like tens of thousands of others who "ran" into the future without any realistic goals and wind up as middle aged wondering why life has passed them by.  I suspect I have interviewed hundreds of men - and women, like that and never realized I was - more often than not, looking into a mirror of my own life.

    Hope to see you, tomorrow...

    Monday, February 3, 2014

    Later, I would use my connections to get to the Pentagon and had a number of intriguing assignments, but difficult to get people interested in promotions.

    A former boss in Japan had been reassigned to Scott AFB, IL, so I finagled another transfer only to be assigned to an office that seemed to care more about their future retirement than the efficiencies they were supposed to be developing for other offices on the base.  When August rolled around, I got serious about college. found that I could resign immediately, and would up enrolling at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA.

    I seldom talk about this experience as it was not my favorite experience in the military.   I know that in WWII the GI’s had come up with a term, SNAFU, which stood for “Situation normal, all fouled up.”  Well, in my opinion, they could have come up with an even more offensive term.   I wound up being awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal for work I did, organizing an outfit we were going to send to Korea.  I have never seen plans be subjected to much change as these were, but no one seemed to care, even though as I can recall, every change doubles the cost of the operation.   Stop and apply that axiom to the wars we have been involved since then and you will have a clue as to why I am opposed to war - not only because of the reported  need which too often comes by way of questionable intelligence.  The price we pay is one thing, but the loss of life burdens my soul and - in my opinion, ought to burden every person who lives in what I have come to know as our beloved nation.

    Finally, I came home in May of 1950 and there was no one there to greet us, not even my own family.  I had been to war and as far as my family seemed to be concerned, I might as well been to the grocer store.  And that attitude applied to almost every one I have met who had been in Korea.

    They sent me to Eglin AFB upon my return which was an interesting assignment, primarily because it was right on the Gulf of Mexico with sandy beaches and pretty girls and easy to enjoy after years in the Far East.

    February 4, 2014

    I was sent to the Japan Air Material Area (JAMA), North of Tokyo and specifically assigned to the Motor Pool - because I had a drivers license.  There I met my first friend, Sgt. Simonetti, from “Philly” he said.  Asked what I could do, I confessed I only knew how to “milk cows and drive a tractor”.  He glared at me, he wasn’t kidding, I had tried to kid him.  Wrong!

    He pointed  to a “stub nosed” tractor, one of those that pull 18 wheel trailers, and commanded, “Show me”.   I had no idea how, but I wasn’t about to quit on that guy, so I climbed up into the seat and fortunately, on the dash board was a configuration of the transmission.  I started it up and he told me to drive around the motor pool area.  First time, I went pretty slow; the next time he told me to speed it up, and again, speed it up some more.  Now I had to be careful not to run into something else.  He jumped to my window and asked if I had ever backed trailers.  “Sure, on the farm, the two wheeled kind.”   He told me to climb down and he would show me how to connect the tractor to the trailer and then, asked me to try it.  It worked.  Then, he asked me to back the trailer into a assigned parking spot and miracle of miracles, I did it on my first try.

    He told me to come with him and took me to the Captain’s office.  “Sir” he said, “We have found the right man to clean up the mess we have had.”   “Welcome aboard,” the Captain said and I had a job, a real job.  The night drivers would come in drop their trailers here and there and it was my job to park them where they belonged.   I was done before lunch time and just hung around the place.  Then, came assignments to run errands, deliver materials, all sorts of odd jobs. I became the “Hey you, c’mere” of the Base Motor Pool.

    One day, they sent me back to the barracks to wait for a call from the Base Commander and then, drive his sedan into Tokyo.  I would wait for him until he was ready to return.  I did that twice and the last night, he asked me what I was doing chauffeur work and I told him it was only temporary as I thought it would be.  Then he made a remark about blacks being chauffeurs as it was the best thing they can do ad I ought to get a better job.  He told me he was reassigning a number of personnel and would include me.  Sure enough, I was.

    I really did not like what I had been doing so I took the Colonel’s advice - look for a better job.  The interviewer was Sgt. Max Miller and I will never ever forget him.  Asked what I would like to do, I told him I thought he might have a job for me; he asked if I knew the alphabet.  “Sure.”  “OK, report to this office in the morning.  All I had to do was go through all of the personnel files and make sure they were in alphabetical order.   I was done by Noon.  He had more files.  I was done by 1600 hours.  I will never forget the next thing he had to say, “Mac, I am leaving here in 18 months.  If you want my job then, it’s yours.”  I kept looking at the stripes on his sleeve; he had six, I had none.   

    “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of that” and sure enough, when he left, I had four.  My future working in Personnel was underway. 

    Fortunately for me, the others in the Headquarters helped me to learn the ins and outs of protocol, what to do and what not, when to and when not to, etc., etc.  The only problem I ever had that I recall was one Saturday morning, I was asked to type some transfer orders.   When it came to the command line, which was to read “By Order of Colonel Chitty” I thought of the joke going around and changed the “C” to an “S”, typed one copy and corrected it on the ones I sent to the appropriate office.  Guess what!  Someone got hold of  the copy I had discarded and it wound up on the Colonel’s desk.  Needless to say, I had to explain to the Colonel.  I told him I did it for laughs and now realized it was not a laughing matter.  Nor, did he think so, then.

    Well now, it appears that I have left a bit of confusion in the post(s) dated February 1.   Sorry about that, I am new at this and when I get confused by the instructions my editor faithfully provides, I have to turn back to her for more assistance.   So, let’s see, I was talking about my early days and was about to move from the farm in Yale and start providing insight on the  years to follow.   Keep reading, I have a reason for all of this.  Thanks… 

    Continuing from where I left off…The fact is, I discovered I was 17 and eligible to be designated as a WWII veteran and therefore, eligible for the “G,I. Bill of Rights”, which would pay for a college education, I literally ran away from the only home I had ever known.   I was now “on my own” and dependent on no one.  That was my attitude as I went through Basic training and right up to the point where I learned they were sending me to the Philippine Islands as a recruit.  I must confess, on those 31 days that it took us to sail out of New York, through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific Ocean, I was more frightened by the future than the fact of the grand adventure that was to come.

    We stopped for three days in Hawaii, after having spent three days in Panama City, Panama, and the beauty of the ocean  had calmed my anxieties until I would learn, I was among those who would be assigned to duty in Japan.

    February 11th would become the longest day of my life.  We debarked in Yokohama, Japan, and that was interesting, but as the train slowly climbed out of the harbor area and through the cities, you could look directly into the homes of Japanese families and I suddenly realized, these were the people our wartime propaganda had taught us to hate.  I had been an impressive kid, I soaked that stuff up.  I had even tried to lie about my age and join the Army just so I could learn how to kill these people.

    The Fourth Replacement Depot was a fascinating place, some said it had been the Japanese West Point, but all we were about to see were rows upon rows of tents which would be our home for 2-3 days.  The next day we were told to report to an assembly hall where a Colonel would tell us about the lives we were about to live.   I still give thanks to that man.  He explained to us that the war was over, that we were a peace loving people and we were to treat the Japanese people in like manner.   There would be no problems, but if there were, we could be assured of the stiffest penalties allowable.  

    For the first time in my life, I consciously thought about being an American and while I ought to be proud of the freedoms that were mine, merely because of my birth, I needed to realize the obligation I had to serve people who had no idea of what freedom really means to the individual.

    Sunday, February 2, 2014

    Routines of Daily Living

    Nothing could have been more fitting than these words as I open the doors of my life to reveal the “routines” of daily living.

    For most people living in Detroit, MI, on August 28, 1929, the “news” of the day centered on the flight of the German dirigible, the Graf Zeppelin, as it flew by.  In the maternity ward of Henry Ford hospital, however, William and Blanche McRae, were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their daughter, Shirley Lou, named of course in honor of the child star in those days, Shirley Temple.  There appeared to be a problem.  The baby was not a girl, but a boy, and in those anxious moments for others, I was born.  What to do about the name, that was the question.  Somehow, some one recalled a banker who lived in St; Clair, MI, where they had met and married, by the name of Sherwood Recor and so it would be Sherwood.   Shirley Lou would come later.

    Those were happy days for my parents, but then came the stock market “crash” a few weeks later, a harbinger of the hard times that would follow.

    “We” would move to Toledo, OH, and then on to Cleveland, actually Lakewood, OH, where - in 1932, their Shirley Lou would enter our lives.  These were tough times, financially, and when our Mother’s Mother came to help, she offered to take young Sherwood home with her, to Yale, MI, where there was lots of room to play and plenty to eat.   We never knew her motives but she had suffered the loss of a son - to be named, Keith, who was still born.   The way she loved on me and treated me has always made me believe that God had replaced her grief with a first grand son.

    Times got worse, the family moved back to Detroit and then, our Father who had been in a minor auto accident in Ohio, was incapacitated by a cyst that was pressuring on his brain - as a result of an earlier accident, and things went from bad to worse.  I had come home to Detroit, but with this burden on our Mother, I was welcomed back to the farm where I would live until I joined the Army Air Corps in 1946.  Somewhere along the line, our Father passed away.   I know the date but it would be years before anyone wanted to share with me, the circumstances that ended his life.

    No one seemed to notice that I should have known as I seemed to be a happy youngster, had close friends in neighboring farms, a wonderful grade school teacher and a high school where it seemed to others, I was accepted by one and all.   Except for the fact, it often seemed to me, I had no Father and only an “occasional” Mother who would come home to Yale from her busy life, working and caring for my sister.

    Hope I haven't bored you with these facts.    I'll be back tomorrow with an explanation.