Category Archives: Books

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.

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“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 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 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 334 – Some Really Good News

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Issue 334  –   May 10, 2016

Some Really Good News

It was in the summer of 1976 when I met Don DeWelt for the first and only time. That was when we both attended the North American Christian Convention, held that year in Denver, Colorado. I had known of Don for many years, thanks to his long preaching ministry and to his extensive ministry of the printed word. He had established College Press in Jopin, Missouri as a means of publishing Christian-oriented books and other materials and was having great success in that field.

DeWelt, Don -- 1919 to 1991

I assumed he knew of me only by my own writings. I wrote frequently for such Christian magazines as The Christian Standard, The Lookout, The Firm Foundation, and others such as Christianity Today. Plus by that time I had two published books books to my credit: The Day Jesus Died (in 1970 by Reuel Lemmons and the Firm Foundation Publishing House in Austin, Texas) and Thoughts on Unity (in 1971 by W. Carl Ketcherside and his Mission Messenger publishing label in St. Louis, Missouri). 

Anyway, Don and I met as we were each walking down the sidewalk on our way to the convention center. We struck up a casual conversation. He soon explained that he needed for someone to write a book on “The Gospel of John” that would be used as a workbook for use with a larger textbook at Ozark Bible College (Joplin, MO.) and other campuses . . . and that the workbook would be suitable as a stand alone book for churches to use in Bible classes. And then he looked me in the eye and said, “Brother Stan, would you write that book?”

When I was a junior at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., my journalism instructor warned us: “Once you get printer’s ink in your blood, you’ll never get it out.” A few weeks after he said those words my first article appeared in the Gospel Light magazine published in Delight, Arkansas. I found out my professor was absolutely correct. Since then, my first love has always been the printed word. And, in a Christian context, I have always been excited and thrilled at the idea of a book or an article of mine having a very long shelf life and access to people and places I could never personally go.

So I didn’t have to sleep on Don DeWelt’s idea or consult a lawyer. I said to him, “I’ll be glad and honored to write that book for you.” We shook hands, again, and that sealed the deal. I never saw him again. But we corresponded regularly and a few months later I turned in a manuscript over which I had labored intensively. Given the same amount of hours, I could have made more money flipping burgers at McDonalds. I was pleased with it when it came out in 1977 as a paperback titled 26 Lessons on the Gospel of John. It still reads pretty well today, some 39 years later.

Here is what that 1977 paperback (200 pages) looked like:

Paregien, Stan  --  26 Lessons on the Gospel of John  --  01 ---original front cover

Paregien, Stan  --  26 Lessons on the Gospel of John  -- 02  Original back cover

My little book was successful enough that College Press reprinted it in 1984 with a new cover, and here is what that looked like:

1984   new covers on 1977 26 Lessons on the Gospel Of John by S Paregien  - 01 -- front cover

1984   new covers on 1977 26 Lessons on the Gospel Of John by S Paregien  - 02 -- back cover

Well, Don DeWelt died in 1991. And I got involved doing other things, including writing a series of my own eBooks (now totaling 15 of them). And I gave only periodic, fleeting thought about maybe revising and reviving that book some day.

Now here comes the really good news.

That book has been out-of-print for at least 25 years. But on August 12, 2015, I received a letter from J. Philip Casey. Turns out he is the Executive Director of another organization founded by the late Don DeWelt, and that is a non-profit named Literature and Teaching Ministries located in Joplin, Missouri. He explained that Don made a trip to India many years ago and came into contact with a Dr. V. Gnanasikhamani in the city of Chennai (formerly Madras). He and his brother, Dr. V. Benni, translated many of College Press’s books into the Tamil dialect and published them in India under the “Christian Ministry of South India” brand. Dr. V. Gnanasikhamani died a few years back, but Dr. V. Bennie was continuing the work. And, . . . lo and behold . . . , he wanted my permission to translate my book into the Tamil language and to allow them to print it and distribute it all over India. 

Wow, I was amazed at the prospect. I quickly accepted the proposal and then went on about my own business. In fact, I lost track of the project as I had three different surgeries and traveled a bunch and had other health issues. Then, late in April of this year, I wrote to Philip Casey to see what the status of the project was. 

On Monday, May 9, 2016 a package arrived for me. It was a letter from Phil and a copy of my newest book–in a totally unintelligible language to me, but in an oh so beautiful format. It was my book, now a 238 paperback and being distributed in the huge nation of India. I thank Phil Casey and Don DeWelt’s son, Chris DeWelt, and Dr. V. Bennie and his staff in India for all the planning and work they did on this project. And I praise the Lord for uniting so many people behind the endeavor to resurrect my long-dormant book and for letting me live long enough to see this little miracle with my own eyes. 

Here is what my book looks like in the Tamil language of India as it was published on Oct. 2, 2015:

26 LESSONS ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN - by Stan Paregien -- India's Tamil dialect -- 2015 -- 01 Front cover

26 LESSONS ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN - by Stan Paregien -- India's Tamil dialect -- 2015 -- 02 Back  cover

26 LESSONS ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN - by Stan Paregien -- India's Tamil dialect -- 2015 -- 4 inside titles

26 LESSONS ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN - by Stan Paregien -- India's Tamil dialect -- 2015 -- 5 frontice piece in English

26 LESSONS ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN - by Stan Paregien -- India's Tamil dialect -- 2015 -- 6 page 11

I am having trouble putting into words how amazed and grateful and happy I am about how the book I wrote in 1977, 26 Lessons on the Gospel of John, was translated into the Tamil language and published on Oct. 2, 2015 in India by the folks at Christian Mission of South India.

That distribution program will go on as long as funds are available, and I hope and pray that will be a very long time. Scenes run through my mind of maybe a teenage boy in a remote village one day being led to acept the Lord Jesus Christ because someone unknown to me gave him a copy of my book. Or a situation in which a middle-aged computer engineer in New Delhi is searching for a real spiritual awakening in her life, finds a copy of my book somewhere and has her life dramatically changed beause of it. Or maybe it will inspire a generation of young people in India to openly profess their love for and devotion to the Christ who saved them. The possibilities are mind boggling. 

Of course, no one knows where all those books will finally find a home. But I believe God will bless any person who wants to follow him more closely. My prayer is that my little book will simply lead the readers to a deeper study of the Bible–God’s truth and Good News for the world–and to an acceptance of salvation through the Grace of God and the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus the Christ.

This unexpected resurrection of my 1977 book has inspired me to do what I wish I had done many years ago. That is to make this commitment to our Heavenly Father and to you, my friends, that I will completely revise and update that book for English readers. Furthermore, I will seek to have it published where copies will be available around the world as both an eBook and as a print-on-demand paperback (if I cannot find a regular publisher). Following that total revision, my long-range dream would be to have it translated and published in the Spanish, Chinese and Russian languages.shed as such. 

Hey, don’t tell me it can’t happen. It just did, at least in one language in India. And, praise God, that will be a precious inspiration for the rest of my life. 

P.S.  This story, above, certainly illustrates how God works in marvelous and totally unpredictable ways to gather people and resources together to bless other people. So I’m asking my Christian friends to please pray for my new project and for the discovery of publishers, translators and resources to accomplish it. Thank you.

Logo---Zia--THE END--613w x 300dpi----pubDomain

Issue 332 – Stan Paregien’s 15 eBooks Online

The Paregien Journal  –  Issue 332  –  May 4, 2016  –  Stan Paregien Sr., Editor

Periodically I need to stop and introduce my newer internet friends to some of the other things I have written over the years. So what follows here are thumbnail descriptions of the fifteen (15) eBooks of mine which are currently for sale online in a variety of popular formats.

I hope to have another eBook finished by the end of the summer, this one a non-fiction book with loads of photos and information about places and people in our recently adopted state, Florida. When that one is complete, I plan to start the most challenging non-fiction book of my entire career. Can’t tell you much about it, except that it will probably take a year or two for me to complete it. And I hope it will be my best and most-widely received.

After those two very serious projects end, I’ll ease off the keyboard and chip away at my “bucket list” of over 15 more writing projects. Do you know the story of Mrs. Winchester of the famed, odd-ball “Winchester House” in San Jose, California? Well, her hubby invented the Winchester brand rifle. He made a king-sized fortune on the manufacture of his guns and ammunition. After his death, Mrs. Winchester began listening way too much to a gypsy fortuneteller who convinced her that she would not die as long as there were carpenters at work on her house. So this dear lady with deep pockets kept crews of carpenters busy 24-hours of every day for years. So her house had doors and stairways that led nowhere and rooms that had been remodeled dozens of times. But, bless this mislead lady, her heart stopped way before the hammers and saws would have.

Unlike Mrs. Winchester, I really am not working away at my eBooks under some similar delusion that as long as I’m working on a manuscript I will not die. I’m a realist in the awareness that I may not even finish this page, let alone another manuscript, before the Good Lord calls me  to that Writers Retirement Home in the Sky. God knows I’m ready when He is, but I just don’t want to get on the Gospel Train today if it can be helped. So I keep writing.

In the meantime, please read through this information about what I have already done.

 

2016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 01 of 13

2016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 02 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 03 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 04 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 05 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 06 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 07 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 08 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 09 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 10 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 11 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 12 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 13 of 13

There you have it, friends. My blog for today. I really do appreciate you stopping by once in a while to catch up on what is going on in my corner of the world. I am absolutely amazed at the fact we get visits from people in so many countries around the world. Even a few that I’m gonna have to look on a map and find out where they’re located.

From January 1 to May4, 2016, we had visitors from an amazing 64 countries in the world. Here is the list in order of frequency, with the visitors from the United States being 20 times as many as the next country:

(1) United States, (2) France, (3) German, (4) United Kingdom, (5) Columbia, (6) Brazil, (7) Spain, (8) Netherlands, (9) India, (10) South Africa, (11) Hungary, (12) (13) Australia, (14) Jamaica, (15) Norway, (16) Italy, (17) Ghana, (18) Switzerland, (19) Finland, and (20) Sweden.

Also:  Ireland, Poland, European Union, Thailand, Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Chech Republic, Venezuala, New Zealand, Austria, Portugal, Trinidad & Tobago, Belgium, Israel, Chile, Mexico, Twaiwon, Serbia, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Slovenia, Jordan, Ukraine, Russia, Costa Rica, United Arab Emirates, Iceland, Lebanon, Peru, Mayotte, Turkey, Kuwait, Greece, Sri Lanka, Georgia (Russia), Morocco, British Virgin Islands, Ecuador, Romania, and Vatican City.

What? Vatican City. Yep, Vatican City. Hmmm. Wonder if one of them was the Pope?

That wide and semi-permanent exposure of my thoughts to others in other cultures is another reason I keep on writing. 

See ya next time.  

 — Stan                Stan Paregien, Storyteller -- 01--D   300 dpi

P.S. The above logo was designed for me by my late sister, Roberta Paregien Fournier, who died in 2015. I miss my littl’ sister a whole bunch almost every day.

Bar  -- 03   Blue with tan and maroon border - created by Stan Paregien - 2015-11-10