Issue 357 – We Enjoy Our Visitors

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The Paregien Journal   –   Issue 357   –   July 13, 2017

We Really Enjoy Our Visitors

During our marriage of 55+ years, Peggy and I have lived in several states and cities. I can safely say that none of them, except for our current home in Florida, has been known as a “tourist destination city.”  The region from Tampa, down through Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Bradenton, Sarasota, and Venice contains beautiful cities, beaches, museums and scores of other attractions. So hundreds of thousands of visitors flock here from all over the United States, Canada and Europe–especially during “the season” (November through April). 

Naturally, that old capitalism rule of “supply and demand” kicks in, with hotels raising their rates and still running at or near capacity, and restaurants hike their prices and still have waiting lines (even at . . . or maybe especially at . . . the “Early Bird Special” time of 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.). And then there is the additional traffic, . . . but don’t get me started on that.

So we are fortunate and happy to have a few more friends and relatives who come to visit us for a day several days. We are always glad host them and get caught up on their lives and the lives of our mutual friends. And we try to guide them to the best attractions in the area.

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Martha and Darrell Russell are very special friends of ours and have been for many years. We all met when Peggy and Martha each worked in the Southwest Airlines Reservation Center north of the airport in Oklahoma City. For several years, Peggy and Martha shared rides back and forth to work from our respective homes about 25 miles from the airport (in Edmond, Okla.). Then when we decided to move to Florida in June of 2013, these two generous souls volunteered to make the trip with us. In fact, Darrell had driven business-sized trucks for years and he accepted the role of chief driver of our rental truck. Martha and Peggy drove our van. 

Then a couple of years later they retired, sold their house, bought a Recreational Vehicle and started roaming all over the U.S. Then their daughter and son-in-law got transferred to Jupiter (over on Florida’s east coast; also where the aging movie star Burt Reynolds still lives) and they started living with there when not RV-ing. And just a few weeks ago, the whole crew moved to new digs up in Social Circle, Georgia. Google that town and scroll out and look at how the town is platted — in a doggone circle. Pretty strange.

Anyway, I think you catch my drift that we very much appreciate and love these two wonderful folks.

And, speaking of wonderful folks, . . . that leads us to James and Glenda Cotton of Edmond, Okla. 

2017--03--05 01A Palmetto, FL - James and Glenda Cotton - by S Paregien

We first met James and Glenda Cotton (of Marshall, Okla.) in a congregation in Oklahoma City where we were all attending. Since then, they have moved from her family farm to just on the far north side of Oklahoma City. We all four laugh all the time about how we were mismatched somewhere back in time, as Peggy and James share a great passion for searching for seashells and tinkering with stuff while Glenda and I are happy to watch the sunsets and read books. Last year Peggy and I rode with them from Edmond all the way through Texas and New Mexico up to Westcliffe, Colorado . . . to a friend’s cabin . . . and then took the long way home. Quite an adventure. And quite fantastic friends.

2017--03--26 02 Brian, Ruth, Muriel, Peg - Venice, FL - by Stan Paregien

Two of our newer retired friends who live in Venice are Dr. Brian and Ruth Smith, R.N. Before they were married, they each independently went to separate medical missions in Africa. A series of twists and turns took place, finally causing them to meet and to get married. They spent the last 20 years of their careers working in McAllen, Texas, moving to Venice in late 2015 or so for his health.

The photo above shows them with my cousin/brother Jerry Paregien (blue shirt) and his wife Muriel and with Peggy.  Both Jerry and I grew up a few miles apart in the wilds of Ventura County (just north of Malibu, etc.). He graduated (as did Peggy) from Ventura High School, while I graduated from Fillmore High School.  I had one sister, Roberta (“Berta”), but nary a single brother. Jerry has certainly filled that slot for me over the years, so I love him as my substitute physical brother and as my brother in Christ. It just doesn’t get much closer than that. 

Muriel and Peggy just seemed to hit it off from the first time they met. For one thing, they are both “P.K.’s.” Now those of you insiders in church circles know what that means. Each of them was a “preacher’s kid.” Muriel’s father, Dale Knowles, preached for ultra-conservative independent Christian Churches (and her brother, Victor Knowles, is a preacher and the long-time editor of ONE BODY, a magazine advocating Christian unity).  Peggy’s father, W.W. (“Woody”) Allen, preached for ultra-conservative Churches of Christ, mainly in Nebraska and in Ventura, Calif. But Muriel and Peggy share so many other interests that their relationship is very similar to that which Jerry and I have. 

2017--06--01 02 - Woody, Lisa, Ella King - Bradenton, FL - by Stan Paregien

Woody King is a son of Paula King and the late Bill King, making him a nephew to Peggy and to me. Woody’s parents farmed in Arizona and Texas, then moved to California and soon to Oklahoma’s oil patch(s), and in his adult life out to Portland, Oregon. Lisa’s parents live in Sarasota and it was Woody and Lisa’s wedding on beautiful Siesta Beach — attended by Peggy — that was a major influence in our moving to Florida. They have the one daughter, cute and smart little Ella. They work together as independent entrepreneurs.

Hey, here is a “blast from the past.”  This photo of Woody and others was taken at our little 10-acre “farm” northwest of Stroud, Okla., in 1981. I added the captions, of course.

1981--048--B---Woody-Gene-Evelyn-Chester-Jeff---StroudOK

That is my mom and step-father in back, and Woody’s younger brother Jeff at right.

2017--06--15 12 - Sarasota, FL - luncheon cruises - by Stan Paregien

Luncheon cruise on Sarasota Bay in mid-June, 2017

This photo is of Stan and Peggy Paregien with their one and only daughter, Mrs. John (Stacy Evelyn Paregien) Magness. Stacy (cook in a nursing home) and John (foreman for a company in the oil field service business) and their adult daughter Christal live in tiny Snook, Texas just west of Bryan/College Station (think “Texas A&M”).  They have lived in Texas all of their married lives. This was Stacy’s first trip to Florida. We hope someday, since her husband John refuses to fly at all, to hog-tie him and load him on a plane and get him here, too. Stacy, by the way, is our greatly loved “chosen child,” as we adopted her in Oklahoma when she was two years old. Their older child, Dylan, works with his father and lives in College Station with his girlfriend. Their first baby is a beautiful girl named Presleigh.

That is Stacy’s picture on the left, at about the same age as Presleigh.

The note in my newspaper for July 7th’s “Birthdays” included the one and only . . . Doc Sevrinsen. Okay, if you’re under 40 years of age you have probably never heard of him. But ol’ Doc, whose real name was Carl, turned 90 this year. He was the band leader during most of the years that Johnny Carson hosted “The Tonight Show” on TV. At one time he owned a horse ranch in Purcell, Oklahoma (which likes to call itself “The Quarter Horse Capital of the World”). He lives up in Webbed Foot Country (i.e., Oregon), and he still performs once in a while. He was especially noted for his wacky stage outfits and for his kinda “wacked out” stage persona, which I don’t know was for real or just an act. He was different, though.

Severinsen, Doc -- about 2016 -- trumpet player and band leader on NBC

Oh, and on July 7, 1954, that nobody truck driver from Tupelo, Mississippi actually conned some D.J. at WHBQ in Memphis to play his first record, “That’s All Right,” for the very first time. And the song was a heck of a lot more than “All Right.” Neither Sun Records nor the world of music would be the same for very long after that. I remember that this “rock ‘n roller” (or hillbilly rocker) in about 1955, when I was a student at Roosevelt Junior High School in Tulsa, came to town for a show. The place was mobbed. And the newspaper the next day on their front page had a photo of two or three of my female classmates trying to climb into Elvis Presley’s dressing room from a window on the outside wall. Ah, yes, the good ol’ days.

Presley, Elvis -- with his guitar in about 1955 - it is a 1955 Martin D-28 guitar

We had been giving some serious thought and discussion about flying to Japan to see that nation and to spent some time with our daughter-in-law Becky Paregien’s brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Tomoko McClain in the Hitachi coastal area north-east of Tokyo. . . .  . . Then, one of our Rwandan friends invited us to his wedding in September there in Rwanda, Africa. So we (mainly Peggy) shifted gears and started researching that trip, instead. The Rwanda trip was just too cost-prohibitive. So we (mainly Peggy) turned our attention back to that possible trip to Japan. After visiting with a travel agent, we decided the possible Japan trip was impossible for us. And for the same reasons:  $$$$$

So we have regrouped and are thinking of going two places instead of one: Paris and Rome.

Doesn’t that sound just wonderful?

Well, don’t get too excited. We’re talking (mostly joking) about driving to both Paris, Tennessee and Rome, Georgia. It would give us some bragging rights, if we just left off the state names. Then on second thought, . . . naw. Back to the drawing board.

Hey, we have a heck of a lot of fun with all of the folks here in our 55+ gated MHP, including such folks as long-time resident Pat Goeller. Read the sign on her shirt.

 

2017--04--11 01 Bradenton, FL - Pat Goeller - by S Paregien

Well, friends and neighbors, that’s it for this time. Thanks for stopping by and “Y’all come, ya hear?”

— Stan Paregien

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Issue 356 – Joy of Aging & Other Lies

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The Paregien Journal  –  www.paregien.com  –  Issue 356  –  July 6, 2017

The Joy of Aging & Other Lies

Okay, buckeroos and buckerettes, make sure your butt is firmly planted on your saddle and your boots are in your stirrups, and your age-spotted hands and arthritic fingers have a firm grip on your horse’s reins. We are about to take a ride down memory lane.

Only this won’t be your Grandma’s memory lane about all the veggies she and Grandpa used to gather from their big garden out back and how she “canned ’em” (i.e., pressure cooked them and put  them in quart jars) and stacked in the basement to be enjoyed some cold day in January. It is not about Grandpa’s musings about how unusually large the fish were that he used to catch in just a few hours at the lake. Nope, none of that stuff.

This little essay is about the here and now, about what a short time it took we old geezers to get from wherever we neaked through high school to the place far away where we live and how things have changed 360 degrees from then to right now. 

So I’ll say like they do on cable TV just before reporting on some awful story, “A fair warning. The content of this next report might be upsetting to some.” Yeah, right. Like to 99.9 percent of people with at least half-way functioning brain matter.

Let’s start with this little book:

1,003 Great Things About Getting Older

Birnbach, Lisa et al - 1,003 Great Things About Getting Older -- 1997 by MJF Books -- front cover

My wife Peggy, otherwise known as the World’s Greatest Optimist (aka “sweet thing”) gave me this little book a while back. I thought it was a joke book. You know, it says “1,003 Great Things About Getting Older” but you open it up and the pages are blank. Sorta like that one “Everything Your Daddy Told You About Women But You Forgot.” But, no, this one actually has pages filled with stuff.

Lisa Birnbach, Ann Hodgman, Patricia Mars and David Owen had their fingers in the pie when it came to compiling these gems of politically correct wisdom. So here are a few sayings to help you get through your first cup of coffee. My comments are in the brackets.

**** It doesn’t take so long for summer to come again. [Not a good thing here in Florida — SP]

****  You’ve paid off your student loans [unless you’re a doctor or a lawyer — SP]

****  You receive mail every day, even if it’s only catalogs and bills. [Yeah, and most of the catalogs are from nursing homes and hearing aide companies. — SP]

****  Your arthritis makes you less likely to lose your wedding ring. [Wrong. I lost mine while frolicking at the beach. “Flrolicking” at my age means wading knee-deep in the water when it is still cool (70’s) to avoid shock to the part of my anatomy which actually probably needss shock treatment — SP]

****  All moral issues are conveniently black and white. [Right. Except those which are not — SP]

****  Weekends suddenly have meaning. [Hey, weekends slip in and out like a thief in the night. I stopped wearing a wristwatch when I retired. Now that we’ve been retired in Florida for four years, I’m also gonna give up my calendar — SP]

****  Dental implants let you eat corn on the cob, again. [Thanks, but I was robbed by my last two dentists. So I’ll just sip soup through a straw. — SP]

****  By age 74, refilling the bird feeder is a good morning’s work. [That or changing a flat bicycle tire. — SP]

****  By age 88 you can still identify half the people in your photo albums. [Ah, ha. Got you there. I have converted most all of our photos to digital images, complete with the names and locations of the subjects. That is what has kept me out of the pool halls most of my life. And most of ’em — well over 13,000 — are stored not only on my computer but also online on my FLICKR account which has 1 Terrabyte of storage — SP]

****  By age 100, all your enemies are dead.

****  A  little sex goes a long way. [Darn it, speak up. Your little grandson Rex does what? — SP]

****  People get out of your way when you drive down the street. [Only the smart ones. — SP]

Men Will Understand This One

All Too Well

 

Medical - prostate_exam_ 04sign_100dpi

My cousin Jerry R. Paregien is my favorite patriot-in-exile from California. He and his wife have lived about 20 years now on a mountain outside of Kingsport, Tennessee. From their back balcony, they can look across a wide valley and see the beautiful Clinch Mountains of Virginia on the horizon to the north.

Like Steve Martin, Jerry is a wild and crazy guy. Though he is showing early signs of  . . .  eh, . . . dement- . . . eh, . . .  Alzhei . . . something or other, Why, that Prune Picker still remembers every joke he ever heard and delivers each punch like with vim and vigor. Actually, I don’t know whether he remembers any of those “farmer’s daughter and the salesman” jokes from our teenage years, but if he does he ain’t admitting to it.

Boys, now what I’m about to tell you is the gospel truth. ‘Cause I heard it directly from my ‘Cuz. And pert near everything he tells me is resonably precise. 

Medical - prostate exam -- 03 - doctor smiling

Jerry told me that a couple of years or so ago, his appointment with his doctor for his annual physical rolled around. When they called his name from the cattle corral (waiting room), one of their nurses took him aside and took his weight and vital signs (yes, he still has some). And she escorted him to the Great Waiting Room down the hall where he twittled his thumbs for 15 or 20 minutes.

Finally, the doctor came in and they exchanged pleasantries. The doc checked his chart and his medications and declared him not-exactly-brain-dead. Said he seemed to be in mite near perfect condition for an old man with not long to live on Mother Earth. 

Then the doc began to stammer and stutter and finally got out these dreaded few words that send a chill up the spine of any red-blooded American male. He said, “Well, Jerry, stand up, turn around  and drop your pants and BVD’s to your knees. Time for me to check where the sun don’t shine.”

Medical -- prostate exam -- DR - 'I don't enjoy them either'

Jerry turned his head around, as much as his arthritis would allow, and looked his doc in the face and said in his professional, deadpan comedian way: “Well, Dr. Jones, I should darn well hope you’re going to check my prostate. I didn’t wash my butt today, like this, for just anybody.”

When the doctor finally quit laughing, and after visiting that Dark Domain, he said to my ‘Cus: “Jerry, for years now I have kept a log of funny things that my clients say to me. You will be pleased to know that your comments will go down in history.”

Medical - prostate exam -- 02 - using a baseball glove

NOTE: The above cartoon is especially for my two old friends, Bob L’Huillier (Bradenton, FL) and Victor Knowles (Joplin, MO), who are devoted baseball fans. 

Carter, Jimmy -- The Virtues of Aging -- 1998 - NY Ballentine Publishing - page 01 - front coverCarter, Jimmy -- The Virtues of Aging -- 1998 - NY Ballentine Publishing - page 02 - back cover

Now surely all of you, well maybe not you young ‘un’s under 50 or so, remember ol’ Jimmy Carter, long-time peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia. He was born there on Oct. 1, 1924.

Now my Grandpa Paregien was a “yellow-dog” Democrat until his dying breath. Somehow I went down the Republican path. But I came through the wringer of the Hippie Years and the Anti-Vietnam War Years. So I did my own thing and I castigated my first vote for a Democrat when I voted for Jimmy Carter. I mean, gee whiz, after all the duds we’d had before, I felt we just couldn’t go wrong voting for a certified man of the soil, a tried and true peanut farmer. After all, a distant relative of mine — Johnny Walters of Wapanucka, Oklahoma–was “Peanut Farmer of the Year” one time in Johnston County.

Well, I’d admit I was wrong about that premise and have made two or maybe three fair-to-middlin’ mistakes since then. But how the heck was I to know that he was also an expert on atomic submarines and other useless stuff like that. Ignorance is often bliss, and I was in la-la-land that day I voted for Mr. Carter.

Shootfire, ol’ Jimmy was a sure ’nuff nice guy. He even taught a Sunday morning Bible class almost everywhere in the world he happened to be, and still teaches his “Adults 101” Bible Class today in Plains (they call it 101 because that’s about the average age of the class members). But even nice guys don’t necessarily make good presidents. Of course, comparing him to Donald J. Trump today I have to say that ol’ peanut farmer looks better and better.

Do you remember Jimmy Carter’s dear, free-spirited momma? Lillian Gordy Carter often shot from her lip, saying just whatever she wanted to say whether it was approved by the Southern Baptist Convention or by the Geneva Convention either one. She was a corker to be sure. And then there was Jimmy’s junior brother, good ol’ Bubba — no, wait a minute, it was Billy. Billy Carter, whose only claim to fame was getting his name on some beer cans — “Billy Beer.” They didn’t serve it in finer restaurants back then, but you might have been able to get one out in Luckenbach, Texas.

But I digress, as I’m prone to do.

Here are some of President Carter’s words of wisdom about the virtues of growing old. He is still a Card-Carrying Baptist so I hope the Lord will excuse him for stretching-the-blanket a bit” (as the old-time cowboys used to refer to any cowpoke who stretched the truth). Keep in mind this remarks are from his 1998 book, noted above.

“Even before leaving the White House, Rosalynn and I received a notice from the American Association of Retired Persons that we were qualified for membership, but we considered ourselves too young to face the stigma of senior citizenship. However, once back in Plains [Georgia, population 700 — SP] the point was to be driven home most firmly and clearly.

“We live 120 miles south of Atlanta and habitually drive back and forth toThe Carter Center and to Emory University, where I am a professor. One morning we left our house quite early and stopped to eat breakfast in Thomaston, Georgia, about halfway to Atlanta. There were four of us in the car, and we all ordered about the same thing. But when the waitress brought my bill, I noticed that it was less than the others. Perhaps seeking credit for being an honest customer, I called her back and began to tell her that she had made a mistake. An older farmer, dressed in overalls, was sitting at a nearby table and apparently overheard my conversation. He looked over at us and called out in a loud voice, ‘Your bill ain’t no mistake, Mr. President. Before eight o’clock they give free coffee to senior citizens.’

“A wave of laught began at our table, and it still resonated through the restaurant as I paid my bill and hurried back to the car. For several weeks afterward, every time we approached Thomaston I knew that someone would say, ‘Why don’t we stop here for breakfast? There’s free coffee for some of us!'” (pp. ix-x).

When Jimmy Carter was voted out of the Presidency, he and his wife found that their “Blind Trust Fund” had been badly managed and their home and farm in Plains were deeply in debt, too.  And then they faced another issue, as he tells it:

“There were other reasons as well why moving from Washington back to our home in Plains was not a pleasant experience. It was not easy to forget about the past, overcome our fear of the future, and concentrate on the present. In this small and tranquil place, it was naturual for us to assume–kike other retirees–that our productive lives were about over. Like many other involuntary retirees, we had to overcome our distress and make the best of the situation.

“When one of our friends pointed out that more than a third of American men in my age troup were retired, and that we could expect to live until we were eighty years old, I had one disturbing reaction: What was I going to do with the next twenty-five yeears?” ( pp. 2-3)

“. . . as we entered our seventies there was another potential threat to our happiness: the forced realization that both of us fit almost any definition of ‘old age.’ I guess it is unpleasant for any of us to face our inevitale gray or thinning hair and the tendency for our waistline to spread, especially when advancing years correspond to a reduced income. This brings a challenging but inevitable transition in our lives — from what we have been to a new type of existence as ‘senior citizens.'” (p. 8)

“So then, when are we old? The corrrect answer is that each of us is old when we think we are — when we accept an attitude of dormancy, dependence on others, a substantial limitation on our physical and mental activity, and restrictions on the number of other people with whom we interact. As I know from experience, this is not tied very closely to how many years we’ve lived.” ( p. 11)

“Driving on the interstate highway in Atlanta to go to The Carter Center, for several months we regularly passed a large billboard advertising country music. The sign said, ‘My wife ran off with my best friend, and I miss him.’ This doesn’t apply to us [i.e., he and Rosalynn]. We seem to be bound together with ever-increasing bonds as we’ve grown older and need each other more. When we are apart for just a day or so, I have the same hollow feeling of loneliness and unassuaged desire as when I was away at sea for a week or more during the first years of our marriage.” ( p. 39)

We’ll share more from this book in a future issue of THE PAREGIEN JOURNAL.

****

Well, here it is — another 4th of July. 

I’m sitting here looking at the “celebrity” birthdays for July 4th and, shazam, I do know more than a couple. Those include . . .  Eva Marie Saint (actress, 93), . . .  Gina Lollobrigida, atress, 90; as an early teen . . . or maybe a pre-teen, I fell in love with that beautiful lady on the flying trapeze in the movie starring she and Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster, a for-real former circus trapeze star) . . . Neil Simon (90, playwright) . . . and that’s as “young” as I can recognize on the list. Of course, that doggone lists includes somebody named Malia Obama, age 19. Oh, wait a minute, I remember. Nah, never mind.

Then there was this historical oddity under “Today In History,” where on July 4, 1826 — exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was adopted — two of our nation’s former presidents died, that being John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

Finally, on July 4, Charles Kuralt died in New York at the age of 62. You remember Charles Kuralt, don’t you? He was the CBS reporter who, with only his TV camerman/soundman as a companion, traveled the backroads of the United States. He was born Sept. 10, 1934 and died on July 4, 1997.

51K-Z1STf6L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

“On the Road” was one of the most popular TV programs–actually, filler spots in the CBS news–that CBS had at the time. He always seemed so doggoned friendly, with a lot of homegrown wisdom, and he could sniff out a seemingly insignificant story and make it a masterpiece. Here are a few of his quotes:

The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege.

 Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.
The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.

 

I recall, in particular, one time he and his cameraman were rolling down a back road in Tennessee or Kentucky . . . and Charles notes a bunch of clothes hanging out back of an old farm house (very few of those new-fangled “clothes dryers” out in the country). So he stopped and visited with the lady and her family and wound up with a very informative and enjoyable six minutes of film. He never won a Pulitzer Prize, but he was one heck of a fine reporter. We still miss you, Mr. Kuralt.

*****

Wise Words for the Young and the Old

From a Member of the Royal Family

 

Be generous: Invest in acts of charity.

Charity yields high returns.

 Don’t hoard your goods; spread them around.

Be a blessing to others. This could be your last night.

 

When the clouds are full of water, it rains.

When the wind blows down a tree, it lies where it falls.

Don’t sit there watching the wind. Do your own work.

Don’t stare at the clouds. Get on with your life.

 

Just as you’ll never understand  the mystery of life

forming in pregnant woman,

So you’ll never understand the mystery at work

in all that God does.

 

Go to work in the morning

and stick to it until evening without watching the clock.

You never know from moment to moment

how your work will turn out in the end.

Beauty in a sunny day - Ecclesiastes 11  

 Oh, how sweet the light of day,

And how wonderful to live in the sunshine!

Even if you live a long time, don’t take a single day for granted.

Take delight in each light-filled hour,

Remembering that there will also be many dark days

And that most of what comes your way is smoke.

 

 

You who are young, make the most of your youth..

Relish your youthful vigor.

Follow the impulses of your heart.

If something looks good to you, pursue it.

But know also that not just anything goes;

You have to answer to God for every last bit of it.

 

Live footloose and fancy-free  —

You won’t be young forever.

Youth lasts about as long as smoke.

 

Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young,

Before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes,

Before your vision dims and the world blurs

And the winter years keep you close to the fire.

 

In old age, your body no longer serves you so well.

Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen.

The shades are pulled down on the world.

You can’t come and go at will. Things grind to a halt.

The hum of the household fades away.

You are wakened now by bird-song.

 

 Aging -- Man - very old with white hair and beard -- 05-A copyrighted by Antonio Silvas

 

Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past.

Even a stroll down the road has its terrors.

Your hair turns apple-blossom white,

Adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body.

Yes, you’re well on your way to eternal rest,

While your friends make plans for your funeral.

 

Life, lovely while it lasts, is soon over.

Life as we know it, precious and beautiful, ends.

The body is put back in the same ground it came from.

The spirit returns to God, who first breathed it.

 

It’s all smoke, nothing but smoke.

The Quester says that everything’s smoke.

 

Besides being wise himself, the Quester also taught others

knowledge. He weighed, examined, and arranged many

proverbs. The Quester did his best to find the right words

and write the plain truth.

 

The words of the wise prod us to live well.

They’re like nails hammered home, holding life together.

They are given by God, the one Shepherd.

 

But regarding anything behind this, dear friend, go easy.

There’s no end to the publishing of books, and constant

study wears you out so you’re no good for anything else.

The last and final word is this:

 Fear God.

Do what he tells you.

 

And that’s it. Eventually God will bring everything

that we do out into the open and judge it according

to its hidden intent, whether it’s good or evil.

 Solomon -- a painting from the internet

                         Painting of Solomon

 

Ecclesiastes 11:1 to 12:14 ( The Message) by King

Solomon (aka “The Quester”).  He was a son of King David

of Israel and was appointed King himself at the age of 12.

He only lived 52 years, from 848 B.C. to 796 B.C.). His

major accomplishment was in completing the Jewish

Temple in Jerusalem. Well, that and finding out how to

keep his 300 wives and 700 concubines happy.

 

— See ya the next time. I’m trying to get back into the groove of posting every Thursday. Well, that’s my goal, anyway. — Stan

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Issue 355 – What Does July 4th Mean?

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paregienjournal.com     –     Issue 355     –     June 29, 2017

Well, home owners in Manatee County are doing quite well, thank you. In May of 2017, the median sales price for an existing single-family home stood at $299,000. Folks, that was a 53 percent increase from the end of 2012. Of course, don’t forget there was a big-time real estate “bust” here from 2008 until early 2012. 

****

There was a fine little story in our local paper this morning. Reporter James A. Jones, Jr., did a little feature on a former Manatee County school educator named Bill O’Brien. Bill spends a lot of his time bowling these days, just as he has for the last 76 years. Hey, if I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’. Okay, technically like everyone else, I’m dying bit by bit. But I’m not lyin’. 

You see, Bill O’Brien is now 93 years old. He was first the principal of Prine Elementary, then of Pine View Elementary and then of Parrish Elementary School. A pretty darned good athlete himself in college, after World War II (he was wounded), 31 years ago he started presenting to Manatee County’s top cross country runners each year the “Bill O’Brien Trophy” and he is still doing it. Plus, he set up three endowed scholarship funds to help a few students each year. Bill is a pretty solid citizen, and I’d like to meet him one of these days.

****

Across the Manatee River in Palmetto, several remaining members of the Lincoln Memorial High School – Class of 1967 – met for their 50th reunion. What is really unusual about these people is they were about the last class to graduate from LMHS — an all-black school. There were 131 seniors in their class, but 42 have died. 

****

It has been quite a spell, but at 9:30 a.m. on  Thursday, June 22nd, I met friends Romolo (aka “Rom,” “Ron,” and “Youse guy”) Colella and Don (“The Poetry Machine”) Betts for a late breakfast at Leon’s House of Omelets in the shopping center just west of I-75 and on the south side of Highway 70 (53rd Avenue). We had some coffee and came up with solutions for most of the problems in the United States. Then after breakfast, we developed plans for solving Europe’s difficulties. Next time we’ll work on the energy crisis, I guess. Just routine stuff for old geezers. So if any of you want to join us, give me a call to make sure we’ll be there next time and not at our respective doctor appointments. Ah, yes, the “Golden Years of Life.” Between the three of us, we might have an ounce of gold and everybody is after it. Even if they have to pull it from our teeth.

****

Many may not be aware of the fact that the home headquarters and training center for Goodwill Industries is only a mile or so east of our hacienda. Those folks certainly do a lot of good for many disabled people, with training and jobs and such. Still, because the CEO at Goodwill makes a lot more money than the CEOs of any other similar charities, we prefer to make donations to the Salvation Army. And there are a couple of other Goodwill policies which bug me. They are skilled marketers, of course, taking donated items and marking them up as far as the market will allow. And around here they have donation centers about as common as McDonald’s.

In Manatee County and next-door Sarasota County they have established four stand-alone stores specializing in music and books, and these are very well-organized. But, simultaneously, they have junked the book departments in their regular stores. Once they, too, had books well-organized by topics. No more. In our regular stores, they are heaped together and making it a headache to wade through the mess. Oh, and one other thing I’ve noticed (which other thrift stores have started doing) is that on men’s shirts, for example, they still place price tags and sizes on the individual shirts . . . but then they throw them on the shirt racks with no size organization at all. I don’t get it, don’t like it and won’t shop at the regular stores for clothes or books. Very poor customer service, but easier for them, I guess. 

****

Our daughter, Mrs. John (Stacy) Magness, flew in from Houston on June 13th and left on June 20th. So we got to spend a lot of quality time with her. Of course, we had to work around those pesky afternoon thunderstorms and downpours virtually every day she was here. Still got to take her to both Manatee Beach (our preferred swimmin’ hole, with life guards and a cafe with mmmm, mmmm good pancakes each morning) and to Siesta Beach. Oh, and on her first afternoon, we took her to Clearwater Beach up in nearby Clearwater, Florida. So she got to see Florida’s most award-winning beaches. 

2017--06--13 03 - Clearwater, FL - Peggy and Stacy at CLEARWATER BEACH - by Stan Paregien2017--06--14 03 - Bradenton, FL - MANATEE BEACH -Stacy P Magness by Stan Paregien2017--06--14 08B - Bradenton, FL - MANATEE BEACH - by Stan Paregien2017--06--14 10A - Bradenton, FL - Peggy Paregien - by Stan Paregien

2017--06--14 10B - Bradenton, FL - Stan Paregien - by Stacy Magness

2017--06--14 11 - Bradenton, FL - Stacy P Magness - by Stan Paregien

2017--06--15 12 - Sarasota, FL - luncheon cruises - by Stan Paregien

We took a very nice luncheon cruise around Sarasota Bay one day. We got to see a couple of dolphin, plus many of the multi-million dollar mansions fronting the bay. 

2017--06--17 02 - Sarasota, FL - - Stacy P Magness

2017--06--17 04 - Sarasota, FL - - Ringling - panorama by S Magness

2017--06--17 07 - Sarasota, FL - - Ringling - Stacy Magness - by Peg Paregien

Peggy took Stacy down to the fabulous Ringling Mansion, Circus Museum and Art Museum in nearby Sarasota on June 17th. They spent the entire day there and had a great time. 

****

Surely this is not a sign of my memory failing or my advancing years, but . . . in the “Birthdays On This Date” section of our local rag for June 23rd I saw where Clarence Thomas– you know — a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Yep, I recognized him . . . but the long list of “younger” musicians, writers, singers, and actors meant nothing to me. Hmmm.

Rogers, Will and Wiley Post -- one of last photos before deaths on Aug 15, 1935

Will Rogers (top, left) & pilot Wiley Post

And in the longer “Today in History” column I only paid much attention to this note: “In 1931, aviators Wiley Post and Harold Gatty took off from New York on a round-the-world flight that lasted eight days and 15 hours.” Now Wiley Post, who had a wild hair or two as a teenager in Oklahoma, lost an eye when injured on an oil drilling rig in Oklahoma. So he used the insurance settlement to pay for flying lessons and with the rest he bought his very first airplane.

I read a fine biography of Post a few years back,and the author pointed out all of his successes in flying and in inventing high-altitude equipment for pilots. Because of his many ’round-the-world flights and publicity, it is true that when he and his close friend–movie and stage star Will Rogers–died in Alaska in a plane crash (flown by Post) on August 15, 1935, it was Wiley Post who was far better known outside of the United States. I have been to Rogers’ beautiful grave site and museum in Claremore, Oklahoma as well as to Post’s well-marked burial place in far north central Oklahoma City. Each man was exceptional in his own field of expertise.

****

“Paregien’s Bed & Breakfast & More” will be back in operation soon. We are expecting two of our Rwandan friends to visit us in early to mid-August. Then our son and his wife (Stan Jr. & Becky) and their son and his wife (Daniel and Leah) will be with us, from the St. Louis area, from about August 24th to Sept. 4th. We’re polishing up the horseshoe equipment and the shuffleboard stuff to keep them from getting bored here in Paradise.

****

Peggy and I watched another old movie the other night (the only kind our grandkids swear we watch, but there are a few things they don’t know). Anyway this U.S. Cavalry vs. Indians movie was titled “The Oregon Passage.” It was actually filmed in a forest over not far from Bend, Oregon. It was in color and starred a good-lookin’ dude named John Erickson, whom I had never seen before so I guess he went back to being a lifeguard or selling used cars. I noticed as they rolled the credits that the film script was actually based on a Western novel by someone we knew: Gordon D. Shirreffs.

I first met Gordon D. Shirreffs in about 1984, as I recall, at the annual convention of the members of the Western Writers of America. It was held that summer in Branson, Missouri and hosted by Jory Sherman and his wife, Charlotte. The first person I met as I entered the hotel lobby was one of my writing heroes, from the really old crowd, Thomas (“Tommy”) Thompson. He and I really hit it off, especially after we found out we had each known Harry Leichler (?), the grocer and honorary mayor of the little town of Piru, Calif., where I lived with my family my last three years of high school.

Anyway, over the next few years, we would get to visit with Gordon Shirreffs and his wife Alice, who were residents of Granada Hills, Calif. at the time. At least one day of each convention was taken up with a bus trip excursion somewhere not far away. Those were always great times to visit with big-league writing pros Like Tommy, Gordon and Jory, as well as other would-be-Louis-L’Amour like myself.  

Well, the host of Turner Classic Movies that night wrapped up the showing of the rather forgettable film with a funny story about Gordon Shirreffs. In 1957 he had written a Western novel titled “Rio Bravo.” John Wayne didn’t care much for the actual book, but he loved the title and wanted it for his next movie. So he and/or his Batjack production company paid Gordon some darned good money for the book, with the agreement that Gordon could sell the actual story to anybody else but not the title. So John Wayne got the title he wanted and Gordon got the money he wanted, . . . not once but twice, as the second buyer turned it into “The Oregon Passage.” And he would laugh as he told that true story and add, “That was by far the most money I ever earned for just selling two words (“Rio Bravo”). 

Gordon Shirreffs had been born in Chicago, Ill., on Jan. 15, 1914. His mother was a recent immigrant from Scotland, and he himself sometimes played in bagpipe bands in southern California. During his lifetime he wrote some 79 novels, much in the solid historical style of Louis L’Amour, and hundreds of short stores and a bunch of stories for comic book companies. He was still living in Granada Hills when he died on Feb. 9, 1996 at the age of 82.

2016--03--17 Food -- Florida -- The Recipe Box Eatery

Above is the business card for a really nice, fairly small “mom and pop” restaurant just north of the McDonald’s near 53rd Avenue East (Highway 70) and 33rd St. East. Give ’em a try.

We ran out of TV trays for everyone at our house the other night, but luckily we had a spare out in the shed. I think this guy is saying, “Very nice!” or something like that.

Senior Citizen TV Tray

 

A Crumbled Dream

by Gene Shelburne

Amarillo, Texas

Campbell, Alexander -- liknesses -- 04 at age 65

 

Does the name Alexander Campbell mean anything to you? If you grew up in any kind of Church of Christ or Christian Church, you need to know about him. He was the founder of our American denomination.

Let me confess that, although I did grow up in such a church, I knew little about the man until I was invited to join a host of church leaders at his home in Bethany, West Virginia—way back in 1966— to mark the one hundredth anniversary of Mr. Campbell’s death.

 During that memorable week I learned that Alexander Campbell did more than found churches. In the college he built, he educated the sons of U.S. presidents. Few people noticed when Campbell boosted American wool trade by importing new breeds of sheep. Nor were many folks impressed when he was elected to West Virginia’s legislature. But his star was slowly rising.

Even founding hundreds of congregations across our young, growing country didn’t catapult Campbell to fame. He became a household name after debating—while befriending—the famous atheist Robert Owen. At his prime, this school-founding, sheep-raising, church-planting country parson was invited to address the combined houses of the U.S. Congress. In many ways he had become the Billy Graham of his day.

During that 1966 gathering in Bethany, however, we also focused on the Civil War years right before Campbell’s death. The halls of Bethany College were quiet—almost deserted—while that brutal war was raging not far away. Most of the students were on the battle lines. Campbell’s heart was broken. His own family was split, with favorite nephews wearing uniforms both blue and gray. Still worse, from his view, Christian brothers from churches he had planted and nurtured now were slaughtering each other.

Civil War -- up-close fighting between Union and Rebel troops -- 02

The young nation that Campbell had mistaken for the eve of Christ’s thousand-year reign had morphed into a hell on earth. Campbell’s dream had become a nightmare.

As Will Durant would later write: “From barbarism to civilization requires a century; from civilization to barbarism needs but a day.” Campbell saw barbarism in his final days, and it made him mourn.

With July 4th just ahead, I rehearse this sad but true story to remind us that the peace and freedom and prosperity we cherish can dissolve over night into blood and hate and tears. It did once. It can again.

Logo for Gene Shelburne - 2017

July4th--05 Flag with 4th of July

Do your children and/or grandchildren understand this day?

Best wishes until next time,

Stan

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Issue 354: Manatee County, Florida

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The Paregien Journal     –     Issue 354     –     June 9, 2017

Manatee County, Florida:

Facts, Fun and Photos

Sometimes when Peggy and I have been on vacation or an extending trip, I will jokingly say to our neighbors when we return: “Where the heck have you been?” Usually, they are kinda taken back by the question and mentally calculate they haven’t been anywhere and then reply, “Me? Where the heck have you been?”

Fair question, since I have not posted here since . . . gulp, . . . March 17th. 

Actually, we have done a fair amount of traveling. That includes a 9-day trip to beautiful Costa Rica. And I have had a health issue or two that just flat made me feeling like doing nuttin’. So I did. And then there were countless hours that I spent wrapping up my most recent book. I really became a hermit in my man cave here at our house in order to get it done before our trip to Costa Rica. More about that project next time. All in all, the last three months have just been busy, busy, busy. And, darn, I’m supposed to be retired. I have resolved to take my foot off of the gas pedal and slow down some.

Okay, let me share with you the good news about my new eBook:

Manatee County, Florida:

Facts, Folks and Photos

 

Master Cover -- Manatee County, FL -- Stan Paregien 01 1,900 X 2,561 X 600 dpi

Hey, is that an attractive book cover or what? I really like it a bunch. Of course, I designed the basic layout, the print, etc., and the photo you see is one  I took at sunset at our nearby Coquina Beach west of Bradenton. Pardon my “fatherly” pride at my newest “baby” but ain’t she just plum purty?

As Elvis always said at the end of a song, “Thank you. Thank you very much.”

Here is the official synopsis of this eBook:

“It is an intriguing combination of one part travel guide for the beaches and other attractions in Manatee County, one part who’s who of today’s leaders and yesterday’s heroes and heroines, one part family photo album, and one part a history book containing over 450 photos and 470 biographical sketches. It is written in a conversational style with touches of wit, wisdom, mystery and spice.  

“Chapter 1, “Manatee County Facts,”  is a quick chronological look at the main events which have happened in Manatee County since ol’ Juan Ponce de Leon set foot here in Paradise in 1513. There’ve been a heck of a lot of other footprints left in the sands of Manatee County since then, and this book notes many of them.

Chapter 2, “Manatee County Cities & Communities,” presents facts and information about Manatee County’s larger cities and the smaller communities as well. All of ’em are fine places, so Stan gives you the inside scoop behind the usual road signs and flashing neon lights. Real people live here and most all of them love it, except maybe for a few diehard sourpusses. You’ll find helpful lists of things you may need to find.

“Chapter 3, “Manatee County Folks,” is where you’ll want to spent a bunch of your time. There you’ll see photos and biographical sketches of hundreds of Manatee County people. Learn why the heck we do things like we do them (Hint: “Because that’s how grandma and grandpa used to do it.”) You’ll meet some of our wonderful pioneer families, a great many solid citizens, plus a lot of folks who work doggoned hard to make this County an even better place to live or to visit.

Chapter 4, “Manatee County Photo Gallery,” is a large and varied photo collection which is guaranteed to put a smile on your face, a bounce in your step and reduction of your acid reflux problem. Well, heck, two out of three hits is darned good in baseball. You’ll get a kick out of the these photos — new ones, old ones, funny ones, sad ones and all in between. 

“Chapter 5, “About the Author,”  contains Stan Paregien’s bio, plus a list of his more than a dozen other eBooks available online through your favorite retailer. 

“The last part, Chapter 6, is titled “Resources.” It contains an extended list of books and articles you can read, videos you can watch and websites you can visit to learn even more about Manatee County.”

Manatee County, Florida: Facts, Folks & Photos is available for downloading to your iPhone, iPad, your Mac or PC laptops or desktop computers and more. This large, photo-filled eBook retails for $9.99.

This book of mine really started back in 2011 or so when my wife Peggy and I were considering moving away from the all-too frequent tornados, ice storms and constant winds in our native state of Oklahoma. We began investigating retirement communities from Arizona to Florida. Most Oklahoma retirees in our income bracket elect to move to south Texas, southern Arizona or to New Mexico. But there were other options as well.
We bought travel books, studied scores of web sites and talked with friends and neighbors. We asked for and received countless colorful brochures from specific states and cities, along with buckets of brochures from realtors and Chamber of Commerce representatives. The more information we received, the more we leaned toward somewhere near the beaches of sunny Florida. So we began a large number of visits to this land of palm trees, beautiful beaches and tropical vegetation populated with many hundreds of 55+ retirement communities for active folks like us.
We would fly into Tampa, rent a car and stay in our niece’s unoccupied seasonal home just to the west in Largo. We used that as our base while we spent a week or so each time researching the pluses and minuses of various towns and retirement villages within them. We concentrated on the west coast of Florida, from Clearwater down to Venice. It was a challenge, to say the least, to find the kind of housing we really liked and to winnow that number down to a much smaller number we could realistically afford. After all that, we still had a staggering variety of choices.
Early in 2013, we made our choice. We found a comfortable, fully furnished manufactured home in a 55+ community of some 267 residences. There was a nice clubhouse and kitchen, a library, a work-out room, an inviting swimming pool and hot tub, the ever-popular shuffle board courts, horseshoe pits and more. Several friendly, welcoming residents eagerly told us about what life was really like there. So in June of 2013, we moved to Bradenton—the County Seat of historic and beautiful Manatee County. Our new adventure had begun.

Today — four years later — the adventure continues each day. Sometimes we get so busy in the golden years of our retirement that we have to hit the reset button, chill out and just bask in the sunshine and inhale the aromas of the year-around flowers and revisit the tropic-like Gulf waters and pristine white beaches.

I planned this book with these ideas in mind: (1) It should be written in a lively, easy-to-read style; (2) It should be an invaluable reference tool for full-time residents of Manatee County; (3) It should be an interesting and useful book for people visiting Florida—and particularly, Manatee County—for the first time; and (4) it should honestly point out the good, the bad and the ugly of Manatee County.

Mission accomplished.

Well, okay, that’s the firm opinion of one not-so-unbiased person. Me.
Critics are likely to say of this book either, “You sure put way too much stuff in there” or “You sure left out a lot of stuff that should have been in there.” My response to both criticisms is this: Yep, that’s right. I put in a lot and I left out a lot. The book is much larger than I intended at the start. And I never even dreamed I would end up with 450 photos and 470 biographical sketches. That’s a bunch, but I have double that material left untouched in the wings. So . . .

Personally, I have never read anything that even comes close to my book in terms of readability, comprehensiveness or usefulness. I’m pleased with it and eager to share it with others. And I hope you will be so doggoned pleased with your copy that you will buy others as Christmas or birthday gifts, or for friends or relatives who are thinking about moving or visiting here.

Hey, you may even want to send one to such a person “up north” when we’re sunbathing in 80 degree weather and up there they have snow a foot deep and the temperature is dipping toward zero. That should get their attention.

Also, just this week five more  of my eBooks were added to Amazon.com’s lineup of eBooks. Those five books are my two Western novels, a book of my general poetry, and two fun story books each containing 15 of my cowboy stories which I performed for years “from hither to yon” from California to Arkansas and from Texas to Montana. Those 20 some years were quite an interesting ride. 

 

Okay, ’nuff about that.

Hopefully, I’ll get back on a more regular pace of posting my little photo/essays here.

Next time I plan to tell you a little about our trip to beautiful Costa Rica that starting on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 and ended on Thursday, May 18, 2017. We had a delightful, though often rain-swept, time visting with our Oklahoma friends Larry and Linda Seng. More next time.

Oh, one more thing. I always get a kick out of watching my stats for these posting. No, I don’t have millions of folks flocking to this site. But what truly amazes me are the hits that I get from so many countries in the world. Here are some samples from just the last 8 days:  U.S.A. . . . Canada . . . Malaysia . . . European Union . . . Poland . . . Puerto Rico . . . Philippines . . . India . . . United Kingdom . . . Zimbabwe . . . Indonesia . . . Australia . . . Mexico . . . Japan . . . Argentina . . . Turkey . . . and Germany. That’s pretty amazing to me, and I’m glad to have each person, from here or abroad, stop by for a visit.

Best wishes to one and all,

— Stan Paregien

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Issue 353    –     March 17, 2017

Horsin’ Around in Florida

Retired folks in Florida just don’t have many empty days on their calendars. First of all, there are all those coffee hours, bingo games and shuffleboard games that beckon every week. Then there are all those Yankees who come down from up North to visit “during the season.” And then, if that were not enough to keep one busy, there is a lot of just plain ol’ horsin’ around on my agenda. 

For example, we dearly love all of the beautiful beaches here on the Gulf side of Florida. Some of the best anywhere are from Clearwater to our north and down to Venice on our south. But undoubtedly, the first choice for a broad, pearly white beach and beautiful water the prize goes to Siesta Beach on the west edge of Sarasota. That’s about 20 miles from our house. So . . . hi-ho, hi-ho . . . it’s off to the beach we go. 

2017--02--23 07 Siesta Beach - No 1 in US, No 5 in World

Ralph Iacovacci (“The Italian Stallion,” so named because he liked to put in a quarter and ride those horses outside Walmart) and his wife Eunice told us about a “Night of Nashville Music” program put on by their church. So Peggy and I saddled up and joined the fun.

2017--02--25 01 Bradenton, FL - Nashville Music Show

2017--02--25 02 Bradenton, FL - Nashville Music Show

2017--02--25 03 Bradenton, FL - Nashville Music Show

Now about that “Best Western Outfit” contest mentioned below in the program, . . . well, shazam . . . I won the doggoned thing. Got a new Dodge Ram pickup truck, too. Hey, I can dream can’t I? The real prize was dinner for two at a local restaurant. That was close enough to satisfy me.

2017--02--25 04 Bradenton, FL - Nashville Music Show

2017--02--25 05A Bradenton, FL - Nashville Music Show

2017--02--25 05B Bradenton, FL - Nashville Music Show

2017--02--25 07 Bradenton, FL - Stan and Peggy Paregien

“Hey, babe, ya wanna fool around . . . er, I mean pucker up??”

2017--02--25 06 Bradenton, FL - Stan and Peggy Paregien

2017--02--25 08 Bradenton, FL - Stan and Peggy Paregien

2017--02--25 09 Bradenton, FL - Stan Paregien's boots and spurs

And next . . . . 

2017--03--02 01 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 03 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 04 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 05 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 06 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 07 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 08 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 09 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 10 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 11 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 13 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 14 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

And then an afternoon spent in Sarasota looking at old (i.e., classic) cars. And we returned that evening for a very good singer (Jimmy Mezz) doing “A Tribute to Music of the 1950’s.” 

2017--03--03 06 Sarasota, FL - P Paregien, G and James Cotton - Classic Cars - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--03 05 Sarasota, FL - James Cotton at Classic Cars - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--05 01A Palmetto, FL - James and Glenda Cotton - by S Paregien

2017--03--05 01C Palmetto, FL - James and Glenda Cotton - by S Paregien

2017--03--05 03 Palmetto, FL - Stan and Peggy Paregien - by G Cotton

2017--03--07 01 Bradenton, FL - James and Glenda Cotton

2017--03--07 02 Bradenton, FL - Peggy Paregien and Allie - by Stan Paregien

And next, . . . we and our neighbors/friends Michael and Penny Letichevsky went over to Aracadia, Florida (about 1 hour southeast of us) on March 11th to enjoy the 89th Annual Arcadia Rodeo. We all enjoyed the cowboy and cowgirl action. They’re even supposed to have a brand-new arena ready for next year’s event.

2017--03--11 01 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien
2017--03--11 02 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 03 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 04 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 05 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 06 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 07 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

That clown is being just a little too nosey, if you catch my drift. 

2017--03--11 08 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 09 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 10 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 11 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 12 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 12B Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 13 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 14 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 15 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 16A Arcadia, FL - barrel racing - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 16B Arcadia, FL - barrel racing - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 16C Arcadia, FL - barrel racing - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 16D Arcadia, FL - barrel racing - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 17A Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 17B Arcadia, FL - Michael Letichevsky - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 17C Arcadia, FL - Penny Letichevsky - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 17D Arcadia, FL - Peggy Paregien - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 17D1 Arcadia, FL - Stan Paregien

And here’s the old cowboy himself.

2017--03--11 17E Arcadia, FL - Peggy Paregien - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 19 Arcadia, FL - Clydesdale - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 20 Arcadia, FL - Penny Letichevsky with Clydesdale - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 21 Arcadia, FL - Michael Letichevsky with portapotties - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 22 Arcadia, FL - Michael Letichevsky with portapotties - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 23 Arcadia, FL - bull - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 24 Arcadia, FL - bull - by Stan Paregien

Well, as you can clearly see, we have been doing a lot of horsin’ around here in Florida. So you might just as well come on down and join the fun.

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Issue 352 – A Visit to Dade City, Florida

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Issue 352    –    March 17, 2017

A Visit to Dade City, Florida:

February 15-16, 2017

2017--02--15 30A Dade City, FL -logo - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 30B Dade City, FL - info - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 30C Dade City, FL - info - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 30D Dade City, FL - info - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 30E Pasco County, FL - logo - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 33A ice creme cone - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

During our recent stay in Ocala, Florida . . . we stayed at the infamous “Bates Motel.” Alfred Hitchcock himself left the light on for us. Well, not literally, of course. But it turned out to be a whole lot less safe and much more shabby than we would have predicted from the office, lobby and outside. We put a chair against the inside of our door and another up against the sliding glass door to the outside. And I had my trusty 9 mm pistola on the end table where I could reach it. Yeah, it really was that creepy. 

So when we breezed into Dade City we decided to spent a little more (okay, a lot more) for a room at the Hampton Inn. It was very nice. Free cookies. Free USA today. Nice breakfast. In other words, most of the comforts of home. It is on the south side of town. Very peaceful night of rest.

2017--02--16 01 hog sale - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 02 our 2016 Kia - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 03 history marker - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 04 history marker - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 05 history marker - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

We saw a sign or an ad pointing out that Dade City has about 13 antique stores in town. So we did our doggonedest to visit each and every one of ’em. Didn’t quite get ‘er done, so we may have to mosey over there again some time.

2017--02--16 06 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 07 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 08 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 09 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 10 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 11 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by Peg Paregien

2017--02--16 11 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 12 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 13A Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 13B Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 14A Mary Leeznar - Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 14B Mary Leeznar - Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

If you go there, tell Mary that Stan and Peggy sent ya. Heck, no, she won’t remember us from Adam and Eve, of course. But she will make you feel right at home. Yep, ya durned tootin’.

2017--02--16 15 history marker - Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

Dade City seemed like a real pleasant country town, only with lots of traffic on the main highways. There are quite a number of historic homes and retail businesses there. We could easily have spent another night there, but we needed to get home to milk our herd of cows (any excuse will do when you’re ready to get back into your bed). 

2017--02--16 16 downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 17 downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien2017--02--16 18 downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 19 downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 20 downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 21 downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

I just couldn’t get up enough nerve to order a fair-to-middlin’ sized slice of Kumquat pie. It just sounds odd, maybe even unAmerican. But apparently folks around Dade City are proud of it.

2017--02--16 22 P Paregien - downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

Here is my Sweet Thang, looking her always good lookin’ self. I took these photos just because I was struck by the texture of the nearby walls. I guess that is the goofy . . . er, I mean, artistist . . . photographer in my DNA. And I wondered which might make a more interesting background for a photo. I guess I’m still wondering, but I kinda lean toward the one above. What do you think?

2017--02--16 23A P Paregien - downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 23B Stan Paregien - downtown - Dade City, FL - by P Paregien

2017--02--16 24 west side - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

Surprisingly, it is just a hop, skip and a jump from Dade City to San Antonio, Texas. You know, the town that ol’ Bob Wills sang about.

Well, . . . okay, you got me.

No, Brother Bob never fiddled a lick about t-h-i-s San Antonio. Because this quiet, tiny town is San Antonio, Florida. I didn’t realize there was such a place until earlier on this trip when we were looking at the map for alternate routes (i.e., back roads and cow trails) to get home from Dade City. This was a nice diversion. 

 

2017--02--16 30 - San Antonio, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 31 - San Antonio, FL - by S Paregien

They have a Mexican restuarant just off the beautiful town square and park, and the name has something to do with Pancho Villa. I don’t think ol’ Pancho ever ate tacos there, though.There was quite a line at the door. So, since I don’t like long lines, we drove on down to Zephrhills and ate lunch at “Rick’s” on the west side of town. Very nice “mom and pop” kind of place that closes at 2 pm, then I think reopens in the evening.

We just drove through Zephrhills (oh, sure, we did stop at a couple of thrift stores on the west side of town) on the fly, but we passed one Mobile Home Park right after the other. Heck, I’ve got nothing against MHP’s per se (since we live in one), but these seemed kinda packed tight and a bit older. And lots of ’em. To each his own, I reckon.

Well, neighbors, that’s about all I can tell you about Dade City and San Antonio. I think you’d enjoy an overnight visit to the area, though. 

Adios for now.

— Stan

 

 

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Issue 351 – Gypsy Vanner Horses in Ocala, FL

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The Paregien Journal   –   Issue 351   –   March 17, 2017

 

Gypsy Vanner Horses

by Stan Paregien Sr.

2017--02--15 01 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD HORSE FARM, info

2017--02--15 02 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD, info

2017--02--15 03 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD, info

2017--02--15 04 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD, info

2017--02--15 05 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD, info

2017--02--15 06 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD, info

2017--02--15 07 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD FARM - by Peg Paregien

2017--02--15 08A1 - horse pulling old-time Caravan

2017--02--15 08A2 - horse pulling old-time Caravan

2017--02--15 08B - horse pulling Caravan

2017--02--15 08C - horse pulling 'bow-top' Caravan

2017--02--15 09 A GVH being ridden with a western saddle

2017--02--15 10 'Droghedas Wildfire' a horse bred by GYPSY GOLD, Dennis Thompson, owner

2017--02--15 11 GYPSY GOLD - barn - Ocala, FL - by Stan Paregien

2017--02--15 12A GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 12B GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 12C GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 12D GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by Peg Paregien

2017--02--15 13 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 14 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 16 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 17 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 18A GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 18B GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by Peg Paregien

2017--02--15 19 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 20A GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 20B GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by P Paregien

2017--02--15 21A GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 21B GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 22 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 23B GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 23C GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 24A GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 24B GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 24C GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 24D GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by Peg Paregien

2017--02--15 24E GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by Peg Paregien

2017--02--15 25A GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 25B GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 26A GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 27 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by Peg Paregien

Well, it was a morning of new experiences and lots of information about this beautiful breed of horses, a breed unknown to me until we got to Ocala, Florida and picked up a brochure about the Gypsy Gold Ranch. I’d highly reccomend that you call ahead and get a reservation for 10:00 am on a Wednesday, a Friday or a Saturday. You’ll get about a 45 minute classroom-like informational session from Dennis Thompson himself. And then he will lead the group on a 45 minute or so tour of his ranch. 

Beware of a couple of things: (1) Most of the horses are stallions, breeding horses with high testosterone levels so they can get so excited they may try to take a bite out of you. So don’t reach your hand out to pet them on the head or to feed them a carrot. (2) Yes, Virginia, there are occasional mounds of fire-ants around the ranch. Those little devils can inflict a painful bite, so much so you might feel like you’ll be stuck with a hot ice pick. Just be careful as you walk around and enjoy these beautiful horses.

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Issue 350 – Silver Springs in Ocala, FL

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Issue 350  –  February 21, 2017  

Silver Springs in Ocala, FL

On Tuesday morning, Feb. 14th, my wife Peggy and I set out from Bradenton, Florida for a little excursion to Ocala, Florida. That’s on Interstate 75, about 144 miles north of where we live.

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We arrived about 11:00 am and immediately drover over to the east side of Ocala to the Silver Springs. We bought tickets for the ride on a glass-bottomed boat around the beautiful springs. The deep springs send forth millions of gallons of clear water each day, eventually forming the Spring River which ends about five miles away. The springs are surrounded by lovely gardens and a long walking path.

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There were about 20 of us on that boat, and our driver and guide was a very elderly black gentleman who was very knowledgeable about the history of the springs. At one point, we were able to see 55 feet down to a large cravice where one of the major springs was doing its stuff. 

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We certainly enjoyed our trip through Silver Springs, and we ate lunch there as well. The busy, busy time is right ahead of the folks there because “spring break” time will start pretty soon and run for a month or so.

Oh, hey, I should tell you that we visited several antique and thrift stores in Ocala. The two best were the Habitat for Humanity ReStore at 926 NW 27th Ave., phone 352-401-0075, and the Ocala Antique Mall & Estates at 4425 NW Blitchton Road (aka Highway 27). Take Exit 354 off of I-75 and go east about 1/4 mile and you’ll see the Ocala Antique Mall on your left. In that same shopping center, there’s a neat little restaurant called “Darrel’s Dog Gone Good Cooking” . . . and it was good.

NEXT TIME: We will share the fascinating story of the “Gypsy Vanner” breed of horses and what we learned from Dennis Thompson at his Gypsy Gold Horse Farm in Ocala. 

 

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Issue 349 – Don Betts, A Good Man

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Issue 349  –  February 21, 2017

Don Betts: A Good Man

We were fortunate in meeting Don and Judy Betts the first couple of weeks after we moved to Florida in June of 2013. At the recommendation of Mrs. Richard (Rita) Edwards, whom we met a couple of years before that in our home church in Edmond, Okla., we visited the Central Church of Christ on the east side of Sarasota. And we were met and cheerfully, warmly welcomed by Don and Judy. And they weren’t the only ones. Soon we decided that would be our church home.

Since that time, Don and Judy Betts have been helpful any time we needed information or encouragement. The four of us have been with each other through a variety of health problems and personal ups and downs. We have studied the Bible together, prayed together, worshiped together, eaten many a meal together, gone on day trips together and shared in several music and poetry jams. In addition, at their kind invitation we spent a whole week with them in a condo on a golf course in stunningly beautiful Sedona, Arizona. You get to know people pretty doggoned well when you spend that much time with them. So now we can share the not-so-secret news: Don and Judy Betts are solid citizens, first-class people and dedicated Christians.

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Last Saturday night, Feb. 18, 2017, we went to a birthday part in Bradenton to help Don celebrate his 85th year on mother earth. Judy worked herself to a nub organizing and executing this wonderful event. I’m guessing that some 50 invited guests showed up for a meal, a piece of his birthday cake, and a program where each person had a chance to say something personal to Don. It was a night of gracious words of encouragement and remembrance. Don read a poem, as did his son Tom Betts, and so did I. Here is mine:

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Dr. Pat Hardeman, Ph.D., is a long-time friend of Don and Judy. He earned a doctorate in philosophy and religion from the University of Illinois. In the 1950s he was much in demand as an evangelist and a debater. He then became a professor of religion and philosophy at Florida Christian College (now Florida College) in the Temple Terrace area of Tampa. At the same time, he was a part-time professor at the University of Tampa. He was also a noted and outspoken leader in the Civil Rights movement throughout the state of Florida. He also preached for a time at what today is the Central Church of Christ in Sarasota. Later, he had a highly successful career as a realtor. He was even selected as the President of the Florida Realtor’s Association.

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And now . . . the “Good Ol’ Days of Yore” . . . 

 

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Before there was a bridge across Sarasota Bay to Longboat Key (island), George Betts would row his small boat across the bay to the John Ringling Estate in Sarasota to work as their chief horticulturist. He became familiar with not only all of the Ringling Brothers and their families but with the workers and performers who were employed by the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus.

It was there on the far south side of Longboat Key that George and Mary Betts lived as their family grew. Don Betts came along on Feb. 9, 1932. Most of his childhood was spent roaming through the woods and jungles and swamps on Longboat Key. He still enjoys telling about swimming on the Gulf side and seeing a myriad variety of fish in every wave. What kid would not have liked playing “Tarzan” on his own virtual paradise. He and his sibling could play in the dirt road which ran the length of the island without a car passing through for hours at a time. NOTE: Don’t try that today, especially “during the season.” 

During the course of his life, Don worked for several years as a lineman for Florida Light & Power after he came back from his tour of duty with the U.S. Navy. Then he worked as a Game Ranger out at Myakka State Park. He transitioned from that to serving as a policeman way out in Tucson, Arizona. Later, he worked in a bank in Sarasota and then became an independent insurance agent.

Don and Judy have lived in a lovely home on the golf course at Tara Preserve, in Bradenton, Florida for several years now. 

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Well, that’s just a tiny bit of the story of our friend Don Betts.

The late Louis L’Amour, the best-selling Western novelist of his day, often had a character in his book say about another cowboy: “He would do to ride the river with.” In other words, that man could be trusted to ride for the brand and to do what was right. In this case I’ll just say: You are an awful good man, Don Betts. And we are proud to share part of your life.

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Issue 348 – This Land Is Your Land

 

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Issue 348     –    February 6, 2017

This Land Is Your Land

I did not watch the Super Bowl football game on Feb. 5, 2017. Half-time entertainer Lady Gaga seems to have gotten favorable reviews from lots of folks. I did catch a news clip of her singing a portion of Woody Guthrie’s popular song, “This Land Is Your Land.” It is a populist, kind of get-together-and-sing-Kumbaya song. 

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However, as the late radio broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say, . . . here is the rest of the story.

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I made the following statements about the history of the song, “This Land Is Your Land.” in my 2012 eBook, WOODY GUTHRIE: HIS LIFE, MUSIC AND MYTH (Chapter 5):  

“On Feb. 23, 1940, Woody wrote ‘This Land Is Your Land’ while living with friend and fellow folksinger Burl Ives at the Hanover House in New York City. He wrote it to counteract what he considered the mindless sentimentality of ‘God Bless America,’ penned by the great Irving Berlin. That song just really irritated him something awful.

“Slowly but surely he worked out the words of his own song and, as usual, simply matched the lyrics up with an existing song. In this case it was the melody of a gospel song, ‘Oh, My Loving Brother,’ a melody that was also borrowed by the Carter Family for their song, ‘Little Darling, Pal of Mine’. Woody titled his song, ‘This Land Is Your Land’ and pretty much forgot about it until April of 1944.

“When the song finally surfaced and was recorded, it only included the first four verses (see below). And it quickly gained traction. Today the first few verses are sung by people all over the world, sometimes with a few adaptations to fit the Canadian or Japanese or Irish or whatever culture. It has been recorded by virtually everyone under the sun, from Bing Crosby to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. In the 1960s President Lyndon Baines Johnson was one of the first to wonder if maybe it should replace our national anthem. And various big-name corporations, including United Airlines and the Ford Motor Company, have used bits of it for their sales pitches on TV and radio.

“Here is how those first four verses read:

1   This land is your land, This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

 2  As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

 3  I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

 4  When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

“The problem with most of the admiration for this song is that the four-verses-only version hides or at least ignores the whole point of the complete song. With all of its verses intact, ‘This Land is Your Land’ stands as a Marxist chant for communal property. Here is how those last three verses read:

5   As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

6   In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

7  Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

“Now, go back and read the first line of the first verse. Doesn’t it take on a much darker meaning? It should because this song is, in fact, radical leftist Guthrie’s most clear challenge to life as most American’s know it.

“He understood that private property rights were, more often than not in the United States, used by land-owning corporations to put down the workers. They and their henchmen, the courts and law enforcement, constantly trampled on workers’ constitutional-granted rights of freedom of speech and freedom to assemble.

“So he was calling on people to join the fight against the concept of private ownership of property which, historically, has been the lynchpin of American politics and economics. Woody reasoned that he was taking the high moral ground in advocating that all Americans should share equally in America’s wealth and property.

“Keep in mind, too, that one of the reasons Guthrie wrote this song was to protest the idealism of the big hit song of 1939-1940, ‘God Bless America.’ And it is in verse 6 that he makes the point that the America he saw, from sea to shining sea, was filled with poor and unemployed people standing in welfare lines. And he felt that capitalism and its innate greed were responsible for the awful situation in which there was a great gulf between the bankers and the guys digging ditches or even those who just wish they had a job of any kind. So nothing would change—the poor will continue to be with us en mass—until we change capitalism to communism. And, though not stated in the song, it was his belief that the labor movement—and unions, in particular—could accomplish that goal.

 “Was Woody a Communist Party Member?

 “Was Woody Guthrie a member of the official Communist Party or was he just a sympathizer on the outside looking in or was he just a guy who sympathized and identified with poor, hard-hit people and sought help from any source?

“Guy Logsdon expressed his point of view when I interviewed him in 2006: ‘Woody loved the United States of America. He loved Oklahoma. And he loved Okemah. He never wrote anything bad against them. He wrote against greed and anything having to do with the suppression of innocent people. If that makes him a Communist, then Jesus was a Communist. Woody was the poet philosopher of the people, the voice of the ordinary person.

“’However, Woody was not radical enough to be a communist. The Almanac Singers, some of whom later became stars as a group called The Weavers, wrote and performed pro-labor and anti-war songs. You know Franklin Roosevelt had a program to rebuild the economy and get production and prices stabilized. It involved killing every fourth cow and plowing under every fourth acre. So the Almanac Singers recorded a song called, ‘Plow Under Every Fourth Soldier’ in protest to the war. That offended a lot of people.

“’And the public sentiment changed radically when Germany waged war against Russia. So the Almanac Singers dropped that song from their programs very quickly. And they started writing and performing anti-Hitler songs.

“’When Woody went to New York City, he was in awe of what they were doing. And he sometimes attended meetings of the Communist Party but, as Pete Seeger has often said, ‘Woody was not a Communist. The Communist Party was a tightly structured organization. And Woody Guthrie wouldn’t join anything like that, because his nature was too independent and unstructured.’”

“Perhaps so. But as we have quoted previously, Woody made that admission or assertion of membership himself. And he did it in what my dear ol’ English teacher at Fillmore (California) High School—Mrs. Percy—would call a simple declarative sentence: “The best thing I did in 1936 [he got the actual date wrong; it was 1939] was to sign up with the Communist Party . . . ” (see Chapter 4.)

“When all views are heard, it seems clear that Woody Guthrie was at the least a solid sympathizer and supporter of the Communist Party. He was a man of his times, and those times were very hard for the working class. So whether he was a card-carrying member of the Party seems immaterial today. And it seems to me that, in the final analysis, Guthrie really had more faith in the unions than he did in Communism. In 1944 he said, ‘I live union. I eat union. I think union. I see union. I walk it and I talk it. I sing it and I preach it’ (Quoted by Ed Cray, Ramblin’ Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie [2011], page 283).

 “Well, as I said, he filed the song away and pretty much forgot about it for several years. But it would finally end up as his signature song and in its four-verse form one of the most sung songs in the world.”

One more thing. The big news right now is about our immigration and deportation policies (or lack thereof). It is old news, really.

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Woody Guthrie had a big place in his heart for the frequently abused immigrant workers and their families. He spent a great deal of time traveling around to make-shift worker’s camps to listen to their problems and to encourage them with his songs. 

In 1948, an event happened that triggered a great deal of anger in Woody.  The U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Department had chartered a DC-3 airplane to deport back to Mexico both illegal immigrants and those Mexicans whose work permits had expired. They left Oakland, Calif., on Jan. 28th with 28 such deportees on board, plus the pilot, a co-pilot, a guard and a stewardess. The plane crashed in a ball of fire near Los Gatos, California.The news reports mentioned the staff members by name and said 28 deportees were also killed. No mention of their names, leaving the impression they were of no importance.

Guthrie took that as a personal insult and an outrage. He went into a writing frenzy, pouring his heart and soul in a song he titled, “Deportees” (also known as “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos”):

Plane Wreck at Los Gatos

(also known as “Deportees”)
by Woody Guthrie

The crops are all in and the peaches are rott’ning,
The oranges piled in their creosote dumps;
They’re flying ’em back to the Mexican border
To pay all their money to wade back again

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;
You won’t have your names when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be “deportees”

My father’s own father, he waded that river,
They took all the money he made in his life;
My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees,
And they rode the truck till they took down and died.

Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted,
Our work contract’s out and we have to move on;
Six hundred miles to that Mexican border,
They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.

We died in your hills, we died in your deserts,
We died in your valleys and died on your plains.
We died ‘neath your trees and we died in your bushes,
Both sides of the river, we died just the same.

The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,
A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills,
Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
The radio says, “They are just deportees”

Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil
And be called by no name except “deportees”?

Sad to say that the practice of devaluing other people is still alive and well. We often find fault with those who are different from ourselves — morally, culturally, racially, religiously and politically. The list goes on.

Now, friends, if you look at this thing strictly logically and scientifically (not morally or religiously) the woes and injustices to the poor, the weak and sickly and the disenfranchised should be of no concern to those of us who are winners in the lottery of life. After all, scientist Charles Darwin preached the survival of the fittest as being in the best interest of the world. So why should one glob of atoms (a human) give a flip about another glob (another human)? You know the routine: (1) Look out for Number 1; (2) What’s mine is mine and I’m after yours; (3) The real “Golden Rule” is that whoever has the gold rules; (4) Greed is good; and (5) Don’t get involved.

Well, . . . if you buy that premise, then it is kinda irrational to do otherwise, don’t you think? Maybe that’s why you’re never seen anywhere a hospital founded and funded by the American Association of Atheists. That’s why there are no major philanthropic foundations operated by the American Humanist Association. That’s what the Society for Humanistic Judaism sits around gazing at their navels. 

Thankfully, however, there are people of goodwill and generous acts of kindness in every group and country. Concern for others, whether a friend or a neighbor or an enemy, is still alive and well.

For example, loving concern is a fundamental theme in the sacred Jewish texts. Here is a sampling from Exodus 23:1-9: “(1) Don’t spread rumors. Don’t plot with evil people to act as a lying witness. (2) Don’t take sides with important people to do wrong. When you act as a witness, don’t stretch the truth to favor important people. (3) But don’t privilege unimportant people in their lawsuits either. (4) When you happen to come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey that has wandered off, you should bring it back to them. (5) When you see a donkey that belongs to someone who hates you and it’s lying down under its load and you are included not to help set it free, you must help set it free. (6) Don’t undermine the justice that your poor deserve in their lawsuits. (7) Stay away from making a false charge. Don’t put an innocent person who is in the right to death, because I will not consider innocent those who do such evil. (8) Don’t take a bribe, because a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right. (9) Don’t oppress an immigrant. You know what it’s like to be an immigrant, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt.” — from the COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE (used with permission)

Christians, too, recognize their duty and honor to serve others who have hit hard times. John the Baptist, who was in prison at the time, sent word to this new teacher named Jesus and asked him for some proof that the was the longed-for Messiah. Jesus did not cite as evidence that he had formed a large anti-Roman army, nor that he had a large political campaign war chest, nor that the Who’s Who of Israel were his backers. Amazingly, Jesus told the messengers, “Go, report to John what you hear and see. Those who were blind are able to see. Those who are crippled are walking. People with skin diseases are cleansed. Those who were deaf now hear. Those who were dead are raised up. The poor have good news proclaimed to them.” (Matthew 11:4-5, CEB)

A lawyer with the Pharisee sect of Judaism tried to trap Jesus one time by asking him what the greatest commandment was in the Law of Moses. Jesus said, ” (37) You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. (38) This is the first and greatest commandment. (39) And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” (Matthew 22:37-39, CEB)

It is clear in both Judaism and in Christianity that love for others–not just a good feeling but positive, practical help–is fundamental to religious faith.

The apostle James chided his peers by saying, “(2) Imagine two people coming into your meeting. One has a gold ring and fine clothes, while the other is poor, dressed in filthy rags. (3) Then suppose that you were to take special notice of the one wearing fine clothes, saying, ‘Here’s an excellent place. Sit here.’ But to the poor person you say, ‘Stand over there’; or, ‘Here, sit at my feet.’ (4) Wouldn’t you have shown favoritism among yourselves and become evil-minded judges?

“(5) My dear brothers and sisters, listen! Hasn’t God chosen those who are poor by worldly standards to be rich in terms of faith? Hasn’t God chosen the poor as heirs of the kingdom he has promised to those who love him? (6) But you have dishonored the poor. Don’t the wealthy make life difficult for you? Aren’t they the ones who drag you into court? (7) Aren’t they the ones who insult the good name spoken over you at your baptism?

“(8) You do well when you really fulfill the royal law found in scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself.” (James 2:2-8, CEB)

That, my friends, is why you see hundreds of hospitals and universities and homes for the needy founded by and funded by the faith community. Highly respected Jewish hospitals and Christian hospitals are found across America, as are homes for the homeless and abused. Back in my old stomping ground, Oklahoma City, we had the Baptist Hospital, Deaconess Hospital (Methodist), and Mercy Hospital (Catholic), each of them a fine facility caring for anyone who walked through the door. Other religious organizations work every day to help migrants with legal work or with learning English, or helping pregnant women save their babies from abortions, or rescuing young men and women from sex traffickers and drug dealers. And the list of good works goes on and on.

“This Land is Your Land” is a nice song title and sorta give us a warm, fuzzy feeling. In fact, I have personally adapted it to create songs for the people of Rwanda (“Rwandans, This Land Is Our Land”), for the people of Honduras (“Hondurans, This Land Is Your Land”), and for the people of Ireland (“Ireland Is Your Land).  View videos of those songs and 50 others on my “Stan Paregien’s Studio” on YouTube at:https://www.youtube.com/user/CowboyStan/videos

My point is this: it takes that “good feeling” and $5.00 to get you a cup of java at Starbucks. Fact is, it is up to you and to me to look for opportunities to honor God by doing good wherever we go and by teaching others to do the same.  

So if you are looking for hope and purpose in your life, please take a serious look around you. Observe how your neighbors are living. Is it the Believers who are more happy and fulfilled . . . and busy helping others . . . or is it the Non-Believers? There are exceptions, of course, for no one is perfect in practicing their philosophy of life. But my 75+ years of experience has shown me that people of faith actually believe that history is headed somewhere and they are not just sitting hopelessly on a spinning earth.

Just sayin’.

[NOTE: My eBook, WOODY GUTHRIE: HIS LIFE, MUSIC AND MYTH, is available in seven popular formats at:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/StanParegien . You’ll find over a dozen more of my eBooks there as well. And before long there will be another one on the list, right now tentatively titled MANATEE COUNTY, FLORIDA: FACTS, FOLKS AND PHOTOS. Stay tuned.]

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Issue 347 – Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman

Issue 347     –     January 30, 2017

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Ree Drummond: “The Pioneer Woman”

 by Stan Paregien

Copyrighted Jan. 30, 2017

The lady now known as “The Pioneer Woman” was born Ann Marie Smith and nicknamed “Ree.” She grew up as a privileged kid, living with her parents in an upscale house in Bartlesville, Okla., near the 7th tee of an exclusive country club. In 1987 she graduated from Bartlesville High School. In 1991 she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in gerontology from the University of Southern California.

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So Ree Smith’s life was progressing right along a desirable path for a upper class lifestyle. Then Cupid forced her into a left turn up a country dirt road. That’s when she married a good ol’ boy, a hands-on rancher in nearby Pawhuska, Oklahoma by the name of Ladd Drummond. The result was that she became as comfortable in cowboy boots as she had been in high heels. She learned how to help deliver calves, how shovel manure out of stalls, how to rope a horse and how to cook meals cowboy style.

Ah, yes, that cooking thing.

Ree Smith Drummond had a natural talent for cooking and she began to share her recipes and experiences on her blog titled, “The Pioneer Woman: From Heels to Tractor Wheels.” Remember that degree of hers in gerontology? Initially she was a journalism major and she apparently took really good notes. Hundreds and then thousands of people—mostly ladies—sat up and paid attention. And it snowballed. By 2009, she was logging 13 million hits per month. Two years later her blog was receiving 23 million hits per month, with about 4 million being unique individuals. Amazing.

Also in 2009, Drummond saw the publication of her very first cookbook. It was titled, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl.

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Of all things, in 2011 Ree switched to writing a children’s book featuring their own dog, Charlie. I don’t know, but the idea for writing about the family’s flop-earred companion may have come from the highly successful “Hank the Cowdog” series of books in which author John Erickson describes ranch life through the eyes of Hank. In any event, Charlie the Ranch Dog was a hit. And she has published several more since then.

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Also in 2011, her publisheR sorted through her blogs going back to 2007 and compiled them into a book titled, The Pioneer Woman: From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels. It talked about food, of course, but it was mainly a lively revelation of how a city gal fell in love with a cowboy. And it jumped to Number 2 on the NY Times hardcover non-fiction list.

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Now, keep in mind that this jeans-clad cowboy was part of a well-to-do Drummond clan. He wasn’t exactly sleeping out in the bunkhouse with the hired hands when he met the redhead from Bartlesville. So when Rees and Ladd Drummond  honeymooned, they did it in style. They went to Australia.

Ladd Drummond’s ancestor, Frederick Drummond, immigrated from Scotland to the United States in 1884 at the age of 20. He promptly invested in a Texas cattle operation and, knowing nothing about the business, even more promptly lost his money. About 1886 young Fred, now a bit wiser, went to work as a trader (licensed by the U.S. Government). He got a job with the Osage Mercantile Company way out in the village of Pawhuska in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), right on the Osage tribe’s reservation. He sold or traded hundreds of Pendleton-brand blanets and other merchandise to the Osage.

Then love came calling and he married Ms. Adeline Gentner in 1890. They were frugal and saved enough money for Fred to puchase a partnership in the OMC. By 1904, he had stockpiled enough cash to starting his own outfil, The Hominy Trading Company, in the village of Hominy. In time he diversified into real estate, ranching and banking investments. And in 1905, Frederick Drummond built his dream home in Hominy, a Victorian style mansion that still stands today. It is now a museum operated by the Oklahoma Historical Society. It is located at 305 North Price Avenue in Hominy.

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Mrs. and Mrs. Fred Drummond had four children: R. C. (Cecil), F. G. (Gentner), Blanche, and A. A. (Jack). When the patriarch of the family died in 1913, the three Drummond sons went together and founded the Drummond Cattle Company.

Ladd Drummond attended Arizona State University, but he has made his living the hard way. Working the cattle and the land day after day, come rain, shine or snow. Here’s a photo of Ladd Drummond from back in 2011 when he competed in the Amarillo (TX) Range Rodeo with a team of cowboys from the Drummond Land & Cattle Company. They competed in several events, including Wild Cow Milking and Team Branding. Their team was the winner for the sixth consecutive year. And Ladd was chosen as “The Tough Hand” of the rodeo. Heck, no surprise there.

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Well, back to the Pioneer Woman.

Along came the year of 2012. In March of that year Ree published her second cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from My Frontier. While her first book was well-received, this one rang the bell so loudly no one could ignore it. That book hit Number 1 on the Non-Fiction list and stayed there, not just for a week or two but for months. Ca-ching, ca-ching, ca-ching.

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In 2016, Ladd and Ree Drummond proudly opened the doors to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile (and restaurant, and bakery) on the main drag in Pawhuska. They bought the delapidated two-story building in 2011 and worked on remodeling it on a pay-as-you-go basis. Finally, after several years of starts and pauses they got ‘er done. And they did a magnificent job of turning an eye sore into a beautiful, modern place of business. Lots of business, believe me.

My wife Peggy and I went there with James and Glenda Cotton on Friday, January 27, 2017. We all spent quite a bit of time in the Mercantile, then we each had a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll at the bakery on the second floor of the building. Peggy and I got to meet Ladd Drummond and I took a photo of her with him. A few minutes later I was able to take several photos of Ree Drummond after she came out from an office to sign her book and was swamped by dozens of enthusiastic fans. 

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It has become the major tourist draw in that small town. People—yes, mostly ladies—flock there in droves. And on the mercantile floor they eagerly go elbow-to-elbow to select fairly high-end dishes, coffee cups, ball caps, books, sewing material and related items, aprons, rolling pins, and novelty items like Bison Lip Balm. Then they stand in a long line to pay out. And, what with all that hard work, they get in another line to eat at either the full-service restaurant or the bakery upstairs.

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So, there you have it. Ree Drummond zig-zagged to a career she never imagined. She is an award-winning blogger, a nationally recognized force in the book publishing industry, a host of her own wildly popular TV cooking show on the FoodNetwork, the owner of her own retail store and much more. Add to that the role of mother to four teenagers and wife of a hard-working rancher.

Ree, as they like to say in Oklahoma, “Ya done good. Real good.”

NOTE: Her web site is at: http://www.thepioneerwoman.com, and that’s where you’ll find her blogs. 

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Issue 346 – Laughter Therapy

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Issue 346     —     January 9, 2017

Whenever I am able to laugh in the middle of a problem, it always makes me feel like I can get through the ordeal someway, somehow. Isn’t that the way it is for you?

Laughter is simply a poor person’s psychiatric therapy, and it may even be more therapeutic in many cases than the high-dollar stuff. Hey, in another life (i.e., many years ago), I worked for the Texas Department of Mental Heath as the Director of one of their centers. And I was a full-time preacher for over ten years. So I have seen people in a world of hurt in many contexts. And spirits were always lifted when we were able to laugh together. 

It was the legendary English author Charles Dickens (A CHRISTMAS CAROL) who wrote, “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” And the late actress Audrey Hepburn said, “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”

I don’t know if Vladimir Putin, the despotic ruler of Russia, ever laughs. But here is what Russian writer and philosopher Fyodor Dostoyevsky had to say on the subject:  “If you wish to glimpse inside a human soul and get to know a man, don’t bother analyzing his ways of being silent, of talking, of weeping, of seeing how much he is moved by noble ideas; you will get better results if you just watch him laugh. If he laughs well, he’s a good man.” 

Then there is this rather practical point of view from an apparent religious guru, Swami Satchidonanda, in his book THE YOGA SUTRAS: “We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy. If we are to die in a minute, why not die happily, laughing?” 

So in this issue I have focused on cartoons and essays that give you a chance to exercise your smiler — i.e., the muscles that cooperate to produce a big ol’ smile when you laugh about something.

So sit back and relax. Take this opportunity to laugh on the inside, and then — what the heck — let it fly. Laugh out loud and enjoy it. 

Let’s get started.

 

 

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Poem 420   Prayer and a Professional Man -- copyrighted by Stan Paregien - 2015--11--10

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Poem 422   Cowboy's Memory Problem, A   -  copyrighted 2015--11--24 by Stan Paregien -- Page 1 of 2

Poem 422   Cowboy's Memory Problem, A   -  copyrighted 2015--11--24 by Stan Paregien -- Page 2 of 2

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In Observation of Tolerance

by Jiggs McDonald

(Mr. McDonald, a broadcaster in the National Hockey League’s Hall of Fame, made these statements before an audience in Toronto, Canada. Sent to me by a friend in Bakersfield, Calif., a town with a high threshold for tolerance. After all, they let Buck Owens & His Buckeroos live there for decades.)

I am truly perplexed that so many of my friends are against another mosque being built in Toronto. I think it should be the goal of every Canadian to be tolerant regardless of their religious beliefs. Thus the mosque should be allowed, in an effort to promote tolerance.

That is why I also propose that two nightclubs be opened next door to the mosque; thereby promoting tolerance from within the mosque. We could call one of the clubs, which would be gay, “The Turban Cowboy,” and the other, a topless bar, would be called “You Mecca Me Hot.”

Next door should be a butcher shop that specializes in pork, and adjacent to that an open-pit barbecue pork restaurant, called “Iraq of Ribs.”

Across the street there could be a lingerie store called “Victoria Keeps Nothing Secret,” with sexy mannequins in the window modeling the goods”, and on the other side a liquor store called “Morehammered.”

All of this would encourage Muslims to demonstrate the tolerance they demand of us.

[Someone else added this footnote: Yes we should promote tolerance, and you can do your part by passing this on. And if you are not laughing or smiling at this point . . . , it is either past your bedtime, . . . or its midnight at the oasis and time to put your camel to bed.]

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Poem 432-- Just Following Instructions   --  copyrighted by Stan Paregien Sr - 2016-01-23  -- Page 1 of 2

Poem 432-- Just Following Instructions   --  copyrighted by Stan Paregien Sr - 2016-01-23  -- Page 2 of 2

 

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Poem 440   A Solution for Marital Problems  -  by Stan Paregien Sr - Copyrighted April 15, 2016

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Vice-President Pence & President Donald Trump

doing a celebratory dance at their inauguration.

[Aw, relax. I’m a Republican . . . with a sense of humor.]

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See there, now don’t you feel better? I sure do hope so.

Best wishes,

Stan

RESOURCES FOR YOU:

Briar, Jeffrey.  The Laughter Yoga Book: Laugh Yourself to Better Health.

F., ED.  God Grant Me the Laughter: A Treasury of Twelve Step Humor.

Goodheart, Annette.  Laughter Therapy: How to Laugh About Everything in Your Life That Isn’t Really Funny. King, Brian.  The Laughing Cure: Emotional and Physical Healing: A Comedian Reveals Why Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine.

Laughter the Best Medicine: A Laugh-Out-Loud Collection of our Funniest Jokes, Quotes, Stories & Cartoons(Reader’s Digest): Editors of Reader’s Digest

Lloyd, Jessica.  Laugh Your Way to Enlightenment: The Art of Spiritual Laughter

Martin, James.  Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life.

McCloud, Ace.  Laughter Therapy: Discover How to Use Laughter and Humor for Healing, Stress Relief, Improved Health and Increased Emotional Wellbeing.

Peter, Laurence.  The Laughter Prescription. 

Pierce, Chonda.  Laughing in the Dark: A Comedian’s Journey through Depression. 

Trueblood, Elton. The Humor of Christ.

 

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Issue 345 – Facts and Fun

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Issue 345      –        January 4, 2017

As one radio broadcaster used to say, “Hello Americans and to all the ships at sea.”

Actually, I’ll just say hello to you. Thanks for stopping by for some facts and some fun. 

The following “Letter to the Editor” should get your hackles up, if you depend on Social Security for your income or known anyone else who does. This writer does a bang-up job of confronting our local Congressman, Mr. Vern Buchanan, with the injustice of the current system. And note how in his last statement he mentions the elephant in the Capital Building in Washington. That is the fact our beloved Congressmen set themselves up on an automatic pay raise of several thousands of dollars each and every year. That really stinks. Let ’em key their pay raises to the same standards ruling what people on Social Security get. 

So, please . . . print off a copy of this letter. Then write letters to all of your representatives and include a copy of that “Letter to the Editor.” 

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Hmmm. Maybe we ought to force President-Elect Trump (Republican), House Speaker Paul Ryan (Republican) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (Democrat) to get inside a man-sized “Get Along Shirt” for the next 60 days or so to make sure they are working together for us — the American people. It is far past time for our leaders to stand tall and work for the common good as Americans, not as partisans.

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Back in 2011, Peggy and I visited Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida as we thought about whether to retire somewhere on the Gulf coast. On the day shown above, Peggy took a photo of me visiting with another old geezer down in Sarasota about all there is to see and do here. To my surprise, my eloquence left this obvious Yankee from New York or New Jersey absolutely speechless.

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Now, friends and neighbors, this is what retirement is all about. Notice that I am not wearing a watch, either. Photo taken late in 2011 by Peggy Paregien when we spent a few nights in a hotel near the gulf at Santibel Island, just west of Fort Meyers, Florida.

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Amen, brother. Tell it like it is.

See ya next time.

— Stan

 

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Issue 344 – Adios 2016, Ola 2017

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Issue 344  –   January 3, 2017  –  Bradenton, Florida

Well, folks, we had quite a nice New Year’s Eve Celebration at our 55+ retirement community down here in Paradise. We ended this 31st day of December, 2016 basking in the sunshine of an 82 degree day. And then we gathered in our clubhouse for a catered dinner, followed by a dance. Pretty doggoned nice, we thought.

Peggy and I stuck around the festivities until about 10:00 pm. We home and started watching an old black-and-white movie about 10:30 p.m. The next thing I knew I woke up and the clock above our TV said 12:09. Peggy had fallen asleep, too. So I awoke her to tell her “Happy New Year!” And then we saundered off to bed. The best part of the day was this part, when I thanked God for being able to start another year with the love of my life.

One of the members of our Home Owners Association had asked me to take photos of our folks as they came through the door for the New Year’s Eve Party. So Peggy took down their names as they lined up and I took two shots of each group or individual. All of the 65+ pictures turned out well, except for four or five, and I appologize for that. I can blame those few  photos on my camera, not the camera operator. For, as you will see, the photo which someone else snapped of Peggy and me with my camera was one of those which was a bit off. Well, at least the price was right (i.e., free). 

I have posted below most of the photos that I took that evening. I hope you enjoy them. 

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2016-12-31-19-red-and-maryann-lalonde-by-stan-paregien

2016-12-31-20-cindy-and-jack-laudano-by-stan-paregien

2016-12-31-21-bob-and-jean-lhuillier-by-stan-paregien

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That’s about it for now. My best wishes to each and every one of you for a wonderful year of 2017.

— Stan Paregien

 

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Issue 343 – ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

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Issue 343 – ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – December 10, 2016

Lest I forget, let me say to all of you that Peggy and I wish for our family and our friends, as well as our followers around the world, a blessed Christmas Day. 

In this issue, I just want to share some Christmas-related poems, essays and cartoons. Happy reading.

 

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

(aka “A Visit from St. Nicholas “)

[A copy of the first publication of this poetic account of a child’s happy visit from St. Nicholas in the Troy (NY) Sentinel (1823) is reprinted and analyzed by English literature scholar MacDonald P. Jackson on the InterMedia Enterprises website. While authorship credit is debatable, some experts agree that the original poem was the work of a Mr. Henry Livingston (according to the Huffington Post).

[A later publication attributes the poem to writer Clement Clark Moore, who claimed to have written it in 1822. Unbeknownst to Moore, the poem was published anonymously in a newspaper in upstate New York in December 1823. Additionally, Moore, who was a professor of Oriental and Greek literature at General Theological Seminary in New York City, is thought to have written “A Visit from St. Nicholas” for his children, without any intention of publishing it. He first published it under his name in 1844 after others tried to take credit for it. So . . . the true authorship is debatable.

[Note: the following version is a modern English version, whereas the original was written in somewhat archaic English.]

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

 Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

 The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

 In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

 

 The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

 While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

 And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,

 Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

 

 When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

 I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

 Away to the window I flew like a flash,

 Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

 

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

 Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

 When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

 But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

 

 With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

 I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

 More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

 And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

 

 “Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!

 On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONDER and BLITZEN!

 To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

 Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

 

 As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

 When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

 So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

 With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

 

 And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

 The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

 As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,

 Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

 

 He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

 And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

 A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

 And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

 

 His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

 His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

 His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

 And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

  

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

 

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

 

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

 

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

 

Santa Claus: Man or Myth?

by Stan Paregien Sr.

 

Here is the story of one man’s answer to be the classic childhood question as to whether Santa Claus is real or not. It is not the only answer, of course, and there are some who raise legitimate concerns about problems an answer like this might cause to children as they grow older. However, those issues are for another occasion. Right now we go back more than 100 years in time to see how one man dealt with the issue.

In September of 1897, a little girl wrote a letter to Mr. Francis P. Church, the editor of the New York Sun newspaper. She asked him to please answer an important question for her. And, after considering her dilemma for some time, on September 21, 1897, Mr. Church published the little girl’s question and gave his answer.

Here is what the little girl named Virginia wrote:

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“Dear Editor: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun [newspaper], it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus? — Virginia O’Hanlon, 115 West Ninety Fifth Street”

What the editor, Mr. Church, told her has become the most widely reprinted newspaper editorial in the entire English speaking world. It is an established part of Christmas folklore in many parts of the world. Here is what he said:

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“Viginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little.

 

“In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.

“We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

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“Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

“You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else more real and abiding.

“No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

You may be interested to learn that young Virginia O’Hanlon later earned a doctorate degree and spent her life teaching and serving as a school administrator. She died at the age of 81. Mr. Church, the newspaper editor, died in 1906 at the age of 67.

 

So far this editorial written in 1897 by Mr. Church is the only one ever set to music. That happened in 1932 when NBC radio commissioned and broadcasted a “Yes, Virginia” cantata set to classical music. On Dec. 8, 1991 a made-for-TV movie titled, “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus” was shown. It starred actors Richard Thomas (“John Boy Walton” in the TV series “The Waltons”), Ed Asner and tough-guy Charles Bronson.

In fact, the expression “Yes, Virginia, There Is A . . . ” has become a common way of saying that a certain thing or person is real and does exist. Such as, “Yes, Virginia, there is an honest politician.” Well, okay, that may not be the best example but you catch my drift.

There remains the deeper question of how or when children should be properly educated about such “make-believe” characters as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny Rabbit, and fairies tiptoeing through the tulips. One rather sarcastic and know-it-all eleven year old told a questioning younger child, “Aw, heck. Santa Claus is just like the Devil. He is your old man.”

That is probably not the best approach.

Here is a better one, especially when they suspect that their mom or dad is really Santa Claus. Just relax and be honest with them. Here is my general letter to kids about ol’ Santa, a letter that would be appropriate for most families:

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