Issue 379 – Dec. 10, 2018 – An Occasional Blog by Stan Paregien
I’ve been to a great many funerals over my lifetime and presided at many of ’em as the clergyman or one doing the eulogy. I can truthfully say that too many of them were either far too long and/or way too somber and formal. I know, ’cause I preached some like that in the early years of my ministry.
However, I learned a lot about what to do and not do and about what to say and what to avoid when I was an Associate Minister at the Mayfair Church of Christ in Oklahoma City from 1968 to 1970 or so. That is because I observed and learned from a master public speaker and encourager: Virgil R. Trout, the Minister of the congregation. His regular Sunday morning and evening sermons were 15 to 20 minutes long, and they were among the most therapeutic, encouraging and instructive I ever heard.
Virgil was especially skilled at personalizing the funerals for which he was the officiant. I went with him a few times on occasions where a funeral home just needed someone to say a few words over the deceased, with few (if any) family or friends in attendance. Still, by the time he ended his short eulogy you felt the person in the casket was important, because Virgil reminded us God feels that way about each of us and believes in us right to the end.
Okay, so what has all that to do with the title of this blog, “1984: A Vintage Year”? Good question.
This week, on Wednesday and Thursday, millions of us watched on TV as our nation and the world said goodbye to George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States and the father of the 43rd President. He was a remarkable man, not only for his many career achievements, but for his plain decency, his unfailing loyalty to friends, his sense of humor, and his strong love for his God, his country and his family. Quite a guy.
The first funeral for Mr. Bush was in the magnificent National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Every detail was perfectly choreographed. It had to be with that many people and world-wide TV coverage. Yes, I think it was far too long (about 3 hours worth). If I had been there, I would have had to run to the nearest restroom at least twice during that three-hour extravaganza.
It was even a tad funny to see all those presidents (one present and three ex-presidents) and their wives sitting in the same pew. The Obamas and the Clintons were more than a little uncomfortable being so close to the guy who had been smearing them for the last three years. But it was good for all of them and for the nation to see them working through that moment.
But let it be said that the military and the police and Secret Service did there their just as they were trained. The musicians, singers and speakers were all in sync to produce a memorable experience. It was inspirational and instructive. It unapologetically showed all who were paying attention the importance President Bush and Barbara and their whole clan put on a personal walk with God and a real relationship with Jesus Christ.
The second funeral, at the Bush’s family Episcopal Church in Houston, was a replica of the first. Same officiating minister, for one thing. It was different in the details or ceremonies or length (mercifully, it was only about 90 minute), but no difference in the vivid witness of a grieving family who lost both Barbara and George within a seven month span and yet relied on faith, family and friends to make it through the long days and to move on.
Wow. It was all just a positive shot in the arm for me and I think for the nation. Their preacher, a Rev. Levenson from the Episcopal Church in Houston presided at both services, plus the burial.
Our son Stan Jr. lives in the St. Louis, Missouri area. He called us that night a few hours after the body of President George H.W. Bush had been taken for burial next to his wife and their daughter inside the walls of the George Bush Library in College Station, Texas (our daughter, Stacy, lives and works just a hop, skip and a jump from there. She and her daughter, our granddaughter Christal Magness, drive by there every day).
As Peggy and I visited with Stan Jr., I said: “You know, it seems like I went over to Tulsa one time to hear ol’ George speak. I couldn’t tell you a thing about it, but I believe it was right in downtown Tulsa and was some kind of a rally or fundraiser of some sort.”
“Hey, dad,” Stan Jr., said. “I went with you to that event. It was down there in the heart of Tulsa. And, yes, we got to see Mr. Bush.”
See there, all you doubters, I haven’t really lost as much of my brain power as you thought. More than I’d like, but just not that much. We did not get very close to Mr. Bush in Tulsa, but here is the one and only photo I took of him:
Quotes from George H.W. Bush
It is my considered judgment that you [sitting President Richard Nixon] should now resign. I expect in your lonely, embattled position this would seem to you as an act of disloyalty from one you have supported and helped in so many ways. My own view is that I would now ill serve a president, whose massive accomplishments I will always respect and whose family I love, if I did not now give you my judgment. — George H.W. Bush on August 1974, speaking to President Richard Nixon shortly before he resigned, when Bush was Republican national chairman.
And my opponent won’t rule out raising taxes. But I will. And the Congress will push me to raise taxes, and I’ll say no, and they’ll push, and I’ll say no, and they’ll push again. And I’ll say to them: Read my lips. No new taxes. — George H.W. Bush on Aug. 18, 1988, during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.
I do not like broccoli, and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m president of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” — George H.W. Bush on March 22, 1990.
To those who say we no longer need a CIA, I say you’re nuts. To those who want to dismantle CIA or put it under some other department … you’re nuts, too. And to those who feel the right to know takes precedence over legitimate classification of documents or over protecting our most precious asset, our people, the same to you. You’re nuts, and so’s the horse you came in on.” — George H.W. Bush on Sept. 17, 1997, at ceremony marking the 50th birthday of the CIA.
I have opinions of my own, strong opinions, but I don’t always agree with them.—George H.W. Bush
I’m conservative, but I’m not a nut about it. – George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the U.S.
We are a nation of communities… a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky. — George H. W. Bush
I’m not trying to get myself up a notch on the ladder by shoving somebody else down on the ladder, whether it’s a candidate or the president of the United States or anybody else. I just don’t believe that’s the way one oughta campaign, I’ve never done that. – George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the U.S.
You know I vowed when I became President not to talk about the loneliest toughest job in the world and I didn’t. — George H. W. Bush
I have a form of Parkinson’s disease, which I don’t like. My legs don’t move when my brain tells them to. It’s very frustrating. – George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the U.S.
We must act on what we know. I take as my guide the hope of a saint: In crucial things, unity; in important things, diversity; in all things, generosity. – George H. W. Bush in 1989.
I have climbed perhaps the highest mountain in the world [i.e., having been President of the United States], but even that cannot hold a candle to being Barbara’s husband. – George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the U.S.
There is a God and He is good, and his love, while free, has a self-imposed cost: We must be good to one another. – George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the U.S.
In what has been deemed his “most devastating” quote of all time, the former president promised voters “no new taxes” during the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans: “Read my lips: no new taxes” (Aug. 18, 1988). It certainly wasn’t the first time a presidential candidate broke a campaign promise when he became president, but it proved catastrophic for Bush, who raised taxes on the wealthy and lost his re-election campaign in 1992.
Don’t forget: Old guys can still have fun and still do stuff. — – George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the U.S. Mr. Bush met with Headline News anchor Robin Meade on June 16, 2009, just four days after his 85th birthday, Those words were addressed to Meade by Bush to explain what they were getting ready to do. Then they went up in a perfectly good airplane and each of them, joined to an expert jumper, parachuted safely to the ground. President George H.W. Bush did the same thing on his 90th birthday, too.
No nation can fully understand itself or find its place in the world if it does not look with clear eyes at all the glories and disgraces, too, of the past. We, in the United States, acknowledge such an injustice in our own history: The internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry was a great injustice, and it will never be repeated. – George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the U.S.
The Class of 1959
We had a class reunion for our Class of 1959 (Fillmore Union High School in Fillmore, Calif.) in the summer of 1984. Here are a few photos of those who attended. Yep, I was there as well.
By now, many of those folks shown in the photos above have died. Next May, 2019 will mark the 60th anniversary of when we all graduated in 1959 from Fillmore High School. No, I have no plans to attend any reunion.
Our lovely daughter, Stacy Paregien in 1984.
This is one of those vintage Wapanucka (Oklahoma) High School’s Reunions. This one in 1984 included my father Harold’s two sisters – Mrs. Alvin (Loretha) Young of Duncan, Okla., and Mrs. John (Eupel ) Higgenbotham of Santa Paula, Calif. – and my stepfather Chester Spradling and his wife (my mother, Evelyn Cauthen Paregien Spradling), plus my maternal uncle Harry Snell and his wife (my mother’s sister) Opal Cauthen Snell of Jay, Oklahoma.
Little ‘Ol Me in 1984
Stan Paregien Jr. (better known as “Gene” until he went into the Air Force in 1985). He and his date for a prom or such at Stroud, Oklahoma in 1984
We lived seven miles north and one mile west of Stroud, Oklahoma in 1984. We had 10 acres of land (our “farm”) which featured an old “shotgun” style house and a couple of nice barns. About 7 of those acres were a good stand of hay which we bailed once or twice a year.
The above photo is of me with my mother, Evelyn Cauthen Paregien Spradling, at the airport in Los Angeles in 1984. She was as lovely a person on the inside as she was pretty on the outside. She was a very strong person with a deep love for the Lord and his people . . . and for every person who came her way. She had a servant’s heart, to be sure.
My mother did very well when she was a sales representative for Mary Kay Cosmetics. She worked really hard at it, and she liked to visit with everyone she met. So in 1984 she got to meet the Queen herself, Mary Kay.
Here is a photo of my mom celebrating her 62nd birthday in Fillmore, Calif., by holding up a cake which her daughter, Roberta Paregien Loffswold Fournier, made for her. Looking on, at right, is my father Harold’s youngest sister – Eupel Paregien Higgenbotham of nearby Santa Paula, Calif.
Our son, Stan Jr. (“Gene”), and his friend Dess Applegate won this competition two years in a road. So they made two trips to Washington, D.C. Much later, as the chief Public Affairs Officer at Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, ILL, Lt. Col. Stan Paregien, Jr. goes to Washington at least once a year with his base commander to meet with congressmen and senators and, over at the Pentagon, various military leaders. Kinda heady stuff.
This 1984 photo was taken at the annual parade in Fillmore, Calif., sorta saluting “The Old Days.” That’s why my stepfather Chester Spradling and my mom Evelyn (at left) and her cousin Troy & Lucille Gary were dressed up this way. They were on their Mobile Home Park’s float and it won the trophy the unidentified man is holding. These four folks, whom we loved very much, left us several years back. Of all things, Chester Spradling actually grew up in the town of Fillmore. Nope, not Fillmore, California. He was born in tiny Fillmore, Oklahoma. He and his first wife lived in Oxnard, Calif., until she died and he married my mom and moved across the county to live with her. He was a great guy, a real gentleman.
I wrote the following poem, “Our Twenty-Second Anniversary,” in May of 1984. We are now in our 56th year of loving on and living with each other. It has been quite a journey.
Stacy Paregien on one of the several horses we had at our little farm over the years. She was a very good rider and loved any and all animals (as her mother did/does).
I had Mr. Charles Mozley for Social Studies and as a drama teacher (I was in one play, for which I received an Emmy . . . or was it a Showoff Award. Heck, I forget. Anyway, Mrs. Mozley was a really wonderful teacher and a genuinely nice guy. He was a little funny looking, being a small leprechaun kind of guy with one blue eye and one brown eye. Hey, If I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’. He would stop lecturing every once in a while to state some something he hoped we’d remember. His only words I recall are when he smiled that impish smile and announced, “I have only two faults: I cannot resist pain . . . or temptation.” I’ve thought about that every once in a while over the years. He pretty well summed it up.
In 1984, he got to thinking about which of all our high school football teams was the best to ever play at Fillmore Union High School in Fillmore, Calif. He decided it was the team of 1958 — the team on which I held down the right end position. No, funny people, I was not just at the right end of the bench. I started almost every game. And we beat every doggone team we faced by a bunch. That is, until we played my old school where I went to junior high school, William S. Hart (the silent screen movie star) High School in Newhall (now known as Santa Clarita). Those guys, several of whom I still knew, kicked our butts all over that field in front of 6,000 folks. We lost 25 to zip. And that, dear readers, was the end of that.
When Business People Lie
If they ever put a photo next to “bald-faced lie” in the dictionary, I’d nominate this document. In 1982, the area of Oklahoma and surrounding oil-related states went into a deep recession. The rest of the nation barely noticed, but thousands of families in the area were hit hard. Many banks and oil-related businesses declared bankruptcy and/or went out of business. That included many of my clients when I was in the life & health insurance business. Pretty soon I found myself having to take another job. And that was as a lab technician at Allied Materials Company in Stroud, Okla. We refined crude oil and made and sold jet fuel as well as roofing tar and related items.
Allied had been in business in Stroud for some 40 years. They provided many of the best-paying jobs in Lincoln County. Then rumors started going around that the company was in trouble. I still have a video recording of the president of our company being interviewed by radio and TV reports. He stood right there and told them there was no truth to the rumors, that the company was doing fine. And below is the letter which he addressed to we employees. He was lying through his teeth.
Things rocked along. We shut down for our regular “turn around,” during which we did major updates and repairs to our equipment. We even had 40 or so certified contract welders taking the place apart and putting it back together. Very expensive job, of course. And then these news stories hit the newspapers and the end was near.
Even our dear sweet, lying dog of a company leader had to admit they were closing the doors on most of our operation. It was terrible news for our community and the entire area.
Even then, he did not tell us all of the truth. The fact is that the Environmental Health Department discovered and proved the company was illegally disposing of toxic materials and asbestos materials at their dump, which was on a creek which flowed right into nearby Deep Fork Creek. Numerous residents learned their water wells had been polluted for many years. So it was a sad, bitter day when 280 were terminated in November of 1984.
All those refining towers, furnaces, tanks and lines that were updated or repaired a couple of months earlier? A year or two later Allied sold them for scrap metal at pennies on the dollar.
Well, as my all-time favorite radio newsman Paul Harvey used to say after telling a morbid story: “Wash your ears out with the following good news.”
So here is little poem which my sister, Roberta Paregien Loffswold Fournier (Class of 1961 at Fillmore; my wife graduated in the Class of 1961 at nearby Ventura High) wrote:
There you have it, a roundup of reasons why I could say why 1984 was a “Vintage Year” for us in particular. A few hard knocks, but lots of wonderful times with friends and family.
Thanks to the good Lord for helping us make it through another year. There were even bigger changes ahead. Stay tuned for more sometime down the road.
THE END. Or pert near it.