Monthly Archives: January 2012

Issue 253 — Reflections on Friendship

Issue 253    —    The Paregien Journal    —  January 29, 2012

Reflections on Friendships

by Stan Paregien Jr.

Ah, yes, there’s nothing quite like a friend. And Peggy and I have had a lot of very good ones over the years. Still, it isn’t often we see one of them on the front page of The Oklahoman (our only statewide newspaper).

Barbara
Singing with joy

Congratulations to our friend Barbara McGuinn, in the photo and just above and a bit to the left of the conductor’s head. Keep singing, kid.

Another Classmate Gone

Class of 1958 (Fillmore, CA) loses another member

My ol’ school, Fillmore Union High (Fillmore, California), lost a member of the Class of 1958 on January 25, 2012. That was a fellow Oklahoman, Thomas Wayne Swift, more recently of Norman. I had lunch with Tom three or four years ago when, somehow or other, we found out we both lived in the Oklahoma City metro area.

Frankly, I couldn’t even remember Tom from our school days. He graduated one year before I did, but we just ran around in different circles I guess. But I took a couple of my high school yearbooks with me and we had some laughs about how our friends sure had changed since then (present company excepted, of course). We spent a couple of hours together that day, having repeated “Flash-backs” (inside joke for FUHS folks) about the good ol’ days.

Our contacts with each other since that extended lunch time have been exclusively by emails. The last one I received from him, which is still in my email box, was dated December 21st and he had just been back into the Veterans Hospital there in Norman. He had a number of health issues, with diabetes being the Big One. In fact, he noted in that last email that it was dated exactly 47 years since he was first diagnosed with the disease. And he noted a new email address (one that would make the FUHS Alumni Association proud), it was tsfuhs@gmail.com . You may still use it, I assume, to drop a note to the family. Linda is on Facebook.com as Linda Robbins Swift.

By the way, she loved Tom so deeply that she actually donated one of her kidneys to him some 19 years ago. They had been married 47 years and had two sons, David and Brent.

Tom and Linda were active Christians. So while we mourn his passing from this life, we celebrate his going to see the Jesus that he loved.

[You may view Tom’s full obituary at: http://normantranscript.com/obituaries_archive_url/x370173322/Thomas-Wayne-Swift ]

Another Christian Friend Goes Home

Chris
Chris Anderson died on Monday, January 23

I preached for the Southside Christian Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa for two years back in the mid 1970s. We were a long way from our Oklahoma roots and friends and in a land that, in the winter time, made Oklahoma feel like the Bahamas.

Two special couples came to our rescue when we really needed close friends. The much older couple, Ray and Frances Rutledge, “adopted” us and our two young children and were surrogate parents to Peggy and me, while gleefully playing grandparents to son Stan Jr and daughter Stacy.

The other special couple in our lives was more our age. They were nearby neighbors Bob and Chris Anderson. Bob worked in the heating and air conditioning industry, working with the sharp edges of ducting material, and so Stacy always called him “Scratchy Hands”. And she still does today, with a smile. They were our confidants, our friends, our pals. And though we last saw each other more than 30 years ago, we still loved them dearly.

We got the sad news via an email on Jan. 29th from their daughter Kim that Crystal M. Anderson, age 74, passed away on Monday, January 23, 2012. Chris is survived by her husband of 52 years, Robert J. Anderson, of Council Bluffs; her four children, Henry Jay Svoboda, Kimberly Clark (and Rob), Kari Fitzgerrell (and Bob), Ronald Anderson (and Kelli); 10 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren; two brothers, Gilbert (and Virgene) and Michael (and Delilah); numerous nieces and a nephew.
 On the web site for the funeral home, the family stated: “We could write a novel testifying to what Chris tried, dappled in, was passionate about, believed in. She had a heart as big as the whole outdoors and was a lifelong learner. If she didn’t know how to do it, she taught herself in whatever new venture she aspired to — retail sales, church secretary, ceramics, crocheting, and aspiring writer. Nothing was impossible in her world. When you asked Chris to do something, it got done, surpassing what she was asked to do.
“Chris had a strong faith in God and lived her life accordingly. She enjoyed, was even passionate about giving to others, helping others and living the life God would desire of her. Mom’s life verse was, ‘May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you my God.’ God was her rock, her strength, her redeemer. Mom’s most prized possessions were her faith in God and her family. Our family is deeply saddened but rejoice and celebrate that she is HOME with her heavenly Father.”

Farewell, dear Chris, until we all meet together in the biggest Reunion of all.

 You may read her obituary at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nonpareilonline/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=155625210

George Burns Sings “I Wish I Was 18, Again”
 

This great music clip features the late comedian George Burns singing the song, “I Wish I was 18, Again” (written by Sonny Throckmorton). George Burns and his late wife Gracie Allen appeared on vaudeville (live stage) in the 1930s and 1940s, then had their own TV comedy show in the 1950s. At the time this clip was filmed, he was somewhere between 90 and 100 years of age. And still smoking cigars (don’t try that at home . . . or anywhere else).

Try to get your favorite teens to listen to this song about the time they turn 18, and suggest that they to go back and listen to it when they turn 40 and then again at 65 and, . . . well, you get the idea. It really makes you think about the twists and turns in your life. Just go to my web site, http://www.paregien.com and on the menu at the bottom click on “Stuff” and you’ll see it listed under “Videos Worth Watching”.

Shopping
Ain’t it the gospel truth?

Well, I guess that’s a wrap for tonight. Good night, friends. We cherish each of you.
 –Stan

Issue 252 — A Rude Awakening at 70 mph

Issue 252    —    The Paregien Journal    —    January 26, 2012

A Rude Awakening at 70 mph

by Stan Paregien Sr.

Picking up from my last blog, . . . our son and his wife and his son Daniel (a senior in high school) and his girlfriend Haley and Peggy and I grabbed a quick bite of breakfast at our motel in Branson, Missouri in the wee, dark hours of Saturday, December 24, 2011.

We had been there for two days and nights, attending shows and kicking around town visiting antique stores and such. It had been a very nice, relaxing time. But now it was time to saddle up and head back to our son’s house in Waterloo, Illinois (across the state line from St. Louis, Missouri). There were early afternoon appointments and obligations to meet, so hi-ho, hi-ho, off toward their home we did go.

And then one of life’s many unexpected and unwanted incidents happened on the dark and deserted interstate as we headed north from Branson to Springfield. At about 6:38 a.m., approximately two miles from downtown Branson, a deer ran across the highway and directly into our path.

Wham! And it was all over.

Stan Jr was driving and only had a fraction of a second’s view of the unfortunate animal as it jumped out of the darkness. Stan Jr automatically drew upon his military training about driving through danger and held their van steady in our lane of traffic. I was sitting in the front passenger seat and saw only two or three deer hooves flash by the bottom of the front windshield. And for a few seconds I was dealing with my fresh cup of hot coffee that spilled over my shirt and jeans. I thought, briefly, that it might be some other kind of warm liquid but, no, it was my coffee.

No one saw anything more of the deer. We did not feel it rolling under the car, nor did we see it go up and over the front windshield. But we found patches of hair on the back on the van, so we assumed it was thrown over the van. We did not stop because it was coal black and our radiator was spewing steam all over the place. We knew we could not get very far.

Fortunately, there was an exit about one-half mile up the road. Stan Jr guided the wounded buggy down the exit ramp with the steering starting to lock up and the radiator steam still gushing. He hung a left and stopped at a convenience store/gas station just a quarter-mile further. Turns out that store was across the street from a big shopping center with a Best Buy store at the end, if you’re familiar with that area.

Stan Jr and van
A deer did some serious damage

We parked the van away from the front of the store. Then all of us walked briskly in the morning freeze into the convenience store. There we met a very helpful clerk named Cindy. She checked to see whether anyone was hurt (no one was), then told us to help ourselves to coffee or other drinks. Then she offered to call the police and a wrecker and a car rental company. And, more than that, she offered her sympathy and her concern.

“We have a club room back here in the back for some fisherman, so you just unload your van and sit in there as long as you need to.” Wow, she was an angel.

convenience store
Warm and safe and glad of it

Becky, our daughter-in-law, called her insurance company and reported the accident. They said they would contact a local wrecker to pick up the car, probably in 45 minutes or so. It turned out to be “or so” plus another hour. She finally called the insurance company back, to ask when the wrecker would arrive, and the new rep could find no record of the original report or of any wrecker being called. That was not what we wanted to hear.

Meanwhile, our new friend Cindy got off her night shift and was replaced by a young man named Joe. Turned out that Joe, the son of the owners of the convenience store, was genuinely concerned about us, too. Thank you, Lord, for two very nice folks to help us through a very stressful four hours.

Being on a Saturday and the day of Christmas Eve, the car rental did not open until 9 am. But when it did open, our new friend Joe drove Stan Jr and Becky a few miles to the car rental office. The place was jammed. They had only one van available (and we had six people and lots of luggage), and we got it. Thank you, Lord, for that “coincidence”.

Finally, the wrecker came and hauled away the damaged van. The driver told us he sees the end result of deer-auto accidents on a fairly regular basis in that area. He offered his personal assessment that the repair shop could fix the bumper, radiator, hood and various belts and pulleys. He did not think the van was totaled. And, as it turned out, he was right. The van was ready a week later and it “only” cost $4,800 to patch it up.

We finally left the city limits of Branson, Missouri more than four hours behind schedule. Somehow those important appointments back at their home just didn’t really matter much, not really. We just thanked the Lord that we were all safe and still able to travel together.

By the way, some of you will be glad to know that the son of the late Roy Rogers is still performing in Branson, though the Roy Rogers Museum & Theater vanished with a few strokes of the auctioneer’s gavel. Roy Rogers Jr (aka Dusty Rogers) and his son Dustin and their band now perform at the The Mickey Gilley Theater, while the historic group Sons of the Pioneers (a group that Roy Sr helped found in the 1930s) now perform regularly at the Shepherd of the Hills in the Pavilion Theater.

Rogers-Pioneers
You can still find good cowboy music in Branson. You just have to look for it.

Oh, one more thing. I have had fun a couple of Sunday mornings playing the part of “Cowboy Casey” for a pre-school class at our church. Each time I have ridden my stick horse, “Happy,” several laps around the small lake (i.e., blue sheet) there in the class room. They really like to do the cowboy yell, “Yee haw!!”  Lots of fun for all of us. One more Sunday morning to go.

Stan Paregien Sr
“Yee haw, all you buckeroos and buckerettes!”

Gotta go for now. See ya soon.

–Stan Paregien Sr

QUOTE FOR TODAY
Verily, when the day of judgment comes, we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done. — Thomas A. Kempis, German theologian (1380-1471).

Issue 251 — Looking back at Branson

Issue 251    —    The Paregien Journal    —    January 16, 2012

Looking Back at Branson

by Stan Paregien, Sr.

The Mrs. and I hopped a good ol’ Southwest Airlines plane on Wednesday, December 21, 2011 and flew via Kansas City to St. Louis, MO. The best thing about that trip, other than the peanuts and the friendly service, was the fact that we just stopped briefly in KC and did not have to change plans. As former employees of SWA (yes, both of us), we have flown into many, many airports across the USA . . . and the terminal at Kansas City ranks on high on our list of places to avoid at all costs. And we did.

Our lovely daughter-in-law Becky Paregien met us at the airport and spirited us away for a lunch with her mom and sister and niece at an Olive Garden restaurant in St. Charles, MO. The food and the service was fine. The wait was not. It took an extraordinarily long time at lunch to be seated, and there were always 15 to 20 people standing around the lobby . . . with very few chairs to be had. That is a big pet peeve of mine, now that I am . . . uh, . . . older and have some foot problems.

And, on that same subject, have you noticed where Barnes & Nobles (at least at our store near Quail Springs Mall in Oklahoma City) has taken out all those wonderful cushioned chairs. All of ’em. Kapoot. Gone. Peggy even mentioned to a clerk her displeasure about the seating. She was told that people abused them (spilled stuff, sat too long, etc) and that she (Peggy) could go sit in the Starbucks in the southwest corner of the building. Hmmmm. Not quite the same. Hard chairs, for one. I personally suspect that the main motive was to provide the very large display space where they now promote their “Nook” e-reader.

Of course, gentle reader, I am a bit prejudiced toward the Kindle. For Christmas I bought Peggy the “Kindle Fire” e-book reader that can show things in color. That’s because I have several books now available in the Kindle format via Amazon.com. Just do a search for my name and you’ll find ’em.

But I digress. Hey, I am a senior and so I have a semi-pass card for moments like that.

Anyway, we spent the night with son Stan Jr, Becky and grandson Daniel (a senior in high school). Then we loaded up their van and all of, plus Daniel’s girlfriend Haley, hit the yellow brick road for beautiful downtown Branson.

We arrived Thursday afternoon (Dec. 22) and checked into our motel, the name of which escapes me (another PASS card, please). That evening, since most of shows were already shut down for the holidays, we went to the Imax theater and saw Robert Downey’s latest “Sherlock Holmes” movie. Our group knew going in that I had rather be back home watching most any B-Western cowboy flick. And this big IMAX production (“a screen 10 times larger than normal, with speakers 6  times louder than normal) did not change my set-in-concrete philosophy of film. I believe the editor of this that extremely loud film was not only afflicted with  ADD disease, but at the time he was editing ol’ Sherlock he was  was severely aggravated by his all-night consumption of high-octane, caffine-laced energy drinks. Or to put it another way: yuk.

Onward and upward.

Book by Roy Rogers Jr, also known as “Dusty”
On Friday, Dec. 23, we spent a lot of time kicking around a number of “antique” stores in downtown Branson. The only thing I bought was a book by Dusty Rogers (aka Roy Rogers Jr) titled, GROWING UP WITH ROY AND DALE (1986). I have several books in my personal library about Roy and Dale (or by Dale). And Peggy and I have both met their daughter Cheryl Rogers-Barnett several times at various Western events. So I was happy to add this one to my collection. I bought it, by the way, at a little “antique shop” there on the north side of the main downtown drag, a place called “The Classy Flea”(107 N. Main). Tell owners Diane and Sally that I sent ya. They carry quite a few Western collectables.

By the way, Dusty Rogers and his band now perform on a regular basis at the Mickey Gilley theater in Branson. Peggy and I grew up with Roy and Dale, too, as our heroes. We saw them in the 1970s at the State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City, but never got to meet them. We visited the Roy Rogers Museum two or three times when it was at Victorville, Calif., and once just over a year ago there in Branson, MO. The museum in Victorville was very nice, but the one in Branson was state-of-the-art and had a very nice small theater where Dusty and his band performed. Sadly, the move did not work out as hoped. The family shut it down and sold most of the items in it–even Trigger, Buttermilk, Bullet and Nellie Belle.

And the fabulous “Sons of the Pioneers” now perform a chuckwagon dinner at the Shepherd of the Hills Pavillion Theatre (http://wwww.theshepherdofthehills.com ), and no longer have their own theater in Branson.

Late that chilly afternoon we stopped at a photo shop and had an “old timey” photo taken of our entire group. That was a hoot, everyone getting dressed-up in 1890s clothing. Our women really looked stunning, and we men looked a bit like 21st century guys stuffed into old clothes. But it was fun.

Click on the photo, below, to enlarge it.

Christmas at Branson, Missouri

Then we went to Shepherd of the Hills a few miles west of Branson. There we bellied up to the supper table for a cowboy meal, followed by a Cowboy Christmas show with Jim Grady (www.yellerdogproductions.com) and a bunch of other musicians and poets. It was a darned good show. As as part of our ticket, we enjoyed a 2 1/2 mile drive through the park’s Christmas lights and displays.

Okay, friends and neighbors, that brings us up to our, . . . well . . . very eventful return on Saturday morning, Dec. 24th, from Branson to Waterloo, Illinois. We managed to get everyone up and fed and in the van by 6:15 am. And off we went. But we didn’t get very far.

And you’ll have to come back next time for “the rest of the story.”

Issue 250 — Happy New Year, 2012

Issue 250    —    The Paregien Journal    —  January 1, 2012

Just a note about this being “Issue 250.” That is my educated, wild-haired guess at how many issues of different newsletters of one stripe or another I’ve published over the last few years. But started there at least will give me a rough idea of the number.

* * * * * * * *

Happy New Year, 2012

by Stan Paregien Sr.

Ah, yes, another brand-spanking new year ahead of us.

This is in fact my 70th new year, though I certainly don’t remember much about the first dozen or so. It just seems as though these new years roll around much more quickly than they used to.

This is “Posting #1” on this blog site of mine. So I want to say thanks for stopping by, and please come back again. I hope to cover a wide range of topics in the future, particularly those of interest to the . . . emmm, eh . . . well, the “older generation”. I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d live long enough to be included in that group, but here I am—guilty as charged. And, considering the alternative, that’s fine with me.

So, gentle reader (as the generation earlier than me often said), I want to kick this off on this January 1, 2012 with a poem that I wrote today. Hope you enjoy it. [Just click on the graphic to enlarge it.]

This New Year

And along that line, one of the many cartoons in my local newspaper today was the one below. I tend to identify with that old fogey for some reason or other.

All is Well

It is now 10:51 pm and we just got home a few minutes ago. We attended a small group meeting of some folks from our church, then we took a lady from our group and our “adopted” college student from Rwanda, Jean, with us to view some Christmas lights in the downtown Oklahoma City area. The area surrounding the large campus of Chesapeake Energy (on N. Western and 63rd St) was especially beautiful.

Guess that’s enough for today.

See ya next time.

–Stan