Monthly Archives: June 2017

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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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“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.

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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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