Category Archives: Humor

Issue 369 – Trouble in Florida

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The Paregien Journal     –     Issue 369     –     Nov. 10, 2017

Trouble in Florida

Yes, friends, Florida is a wonderful place to live. Its name even conjures up the good life: the Spanish word “florida” means “land of flowers.” And so it is. Plus the land of perpetual sunshine and gentle, warm surf. Ah, yes, the good life. 

Only Hawaii and Florida among the U.S. states have truly tropical climates. That is a tremendous draw for tourists from other states and around the world to visit Florida. Florida is the 3rd most populous state in the Union and is the 8th most densely populated state. As of July 1, 2015, our resident population stood at a whopping 20 million well-suntanned folks and a few sunburned ones. The bean counters say that was nearly an 8% increase just in five years (since the Census of 2010). And newcomers keep pouring in, a fact which keeps the pressure on increasing real estate prices.

Of course, we do have a few wee issues such as (1) we are the lightning capital of the United States; (3) we are usually hit by at least one significant hurricane during the season which runs from June 1 to November 30); and (3) if you include waterspouts (actually tornadic winds over a body of water), then we also are the tornado capital of the United States (no, we don’t get much press because our dinky tornadoes very seldom come close to the F5 monsters in Oklahoma and other southwest and midwest states).

 

Oh, and there is one other increasingly bothersome issue.  We have 1,350 miles of coastline with about half on the Gulf of Mexico to our west and half on the Atlantic Ocean to our east. Way back in pre-historical times, Florida was not just surrounded by water it was mostly underwater. Not so surprisingly, then, today most of Florida is at or very near sea level.

Ah, yes, and there is the really big rub.

Our local yellow sheet, the Bradenton (Florida) Herald, has this bold front-page headline this morning: “Rising seas could cost area $25.4 billion in homes.”

The rub, you see, is climate change and rising sea levels are already causing major problems in many cities in Florida (Miami, Tampa, Anna Maria Island, etc.). And a new study by the folks at Zillow.com (the real estate search engine folks) — based on the data released by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration —  warns that the following 10 cities nationwide will be in a catastrophic world of hurt within 100 years (that means being swamped by an additional 6 feet of water):

  1.  Miami, Florida
  2. New York City, NY
  3. Tampa, FL
  4. Fort Myers, FL
  5. Boston, Mass.
  6. Upper Township, New Jersey
  7.  Salisbury, Maryland
  8. Virginia Beach, Virginia
  9. Bradenton, FL  (yep, right here in Paradise)
  10. Naples, FL

 

Do you see a pattern here? Five of the ten listed cities are in Florida. Yikes.

Florida -- climate change - 'Visit While you Still Can'

More specifically, the study warned that the 15 or so cities and towns from the Bradenton area down to North Port could have more than $25 Billion in damages to our homes by the year 2100. Bradenton and beautiful Siesta Key would each have over 5,000 homes destroyed or heavily damaged.  

Because of that, I just won’t hang around for 100 years. I’m reminded of a joke about a scientist who was lecturing about how some distant planet would hit and destroy Mother Earth in 2,400,000 years. Some redneck in the audience widely raised his hand and asked the professor to repeat the timeline. “Yes, sir. Approximately 2,400,000 years.” And ol’ Bubba said, wiping his brow, “Oh, gee, I’m glad you cleared that up. I thought you said only 2,300,000 years.”

Put it in your “Facts to Remember” file.

Try a Little Kindness

2016--97--11 'Smile and Wave' - Bradenton Herald - Part 1 of 2

2016--97--11 'Smile and Wave' - Bradenton Herald - Part 2 of 2

A Last Word on Hurricane Irma

2017--11--08 House Prices Still Increasing in Manatee and Sarasota Counties

Aging -- Florida -- rooster saying, 'The older we got the less we care'

Amen, Brother!

Share this with your friends who just can’t wait for deer hunting season to start.

Animals - deer - hunting -- CLOSE TO HOME cartoon 2017-11-08

Smile . . . And Be Happy

Bradenton, FL -- 14th Happiest City in USA - 2017-10-25

[Bradenton, Florida named one of America’s happiest cities]

Florida -- we live where you vacation

 

2017--11--08 Waterloo, IL -- Stan Paregien Jr's 1937 Oldsmobile

[photo of Stan Paregien Jr.’s 1937 Oldsmobile in Waterloo, IL on Nov. 8, 2017]

2017--10--02 01 Scott AFB, Belleville, IL - Lt Col Stan Paregien and new recruit

Lt. Col. Stan Paregien Jr. helps induct a law enforcement officer into the Air Force Reserves. Scott AF Base in Belleville, IL.

2017--10--04 01 Peggy Paregien and Allie - Bradenton, FL

Some people and some pets have it rough . . . and some, like Queen Allie, above,

do not. Peggy bought this “doggie stroller” a while back.

2017--10--13 01 Palmetto, FL - Bob and Jean L'Hullier with Peggy & Stan Paregien on Peg's birthday

Stan & Peggy Paregien (right) with neighbors and friends Bob and Jean L’Hullier in Palmetto, Florida at a riverside restaurant in October.

2017--10--28 07 Bradenton, FL - Peggy Paregien at the Halloween party at Plantation MHP - by Stan Paregien

[Peggy Paregien in photo on Halloween]

One reason why I keep posting items on this account is because I enjoy reading the statistics on who is visiting my blog. Please understand, I don’t really get t-h-a-t many visitors per day. But, boy, I do get a variety. Just in the last two weeks, people from these nations have stopped by:  the United States, Germany, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Philippines, Latvia, Russia, Norway, China, Switzerland and Netherlands.

Pretty neat, huh? Welcome to all of my long-distance readers and . . . I hope . . . friends. Please stop by again, real soon.

Until next time,

Stan

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Issue 356 – Joy of Aging & Other Lies

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

The Joy of Aging & Other Lies

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

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

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

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

Let’s start with this little book:

1,003 Great Things About Getting Older

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Men Will Understand This One

All Too Well

 

Medical - prostate_exam_ 04sign_100dpi

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

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

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

Medical - prostate exam -- 03 - doctor smiling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I digress, as I’m prone to do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

*****

Wise Words for the Young and the Old

From a Member of the Royal Family

 

Be generous: Invest in acts of charity.

Charity yields high returns.

 Don’t hoard your goods; spread them around.

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

 

When the clouds are full of water, it rains.

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

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

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

 

Just as you’ll never understand  the mystery of life

forming in pregnant woman,

So you’ll never understand the mystery at work

in all that God does.

 

Go to work in the morning

and stick to it until evening without watching the clock.

You never know from moment to moment

how your work will turn out in the end.

Beauty in a sunny day - Ecclesiastes 11  

 Oh, how sweet the light of day,

And how wonderful to live in the sunshine!

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

Take delight in each light-filled hour,

Remembering that there will also be many dark days

And that most of what comes your way is smoke.

 

 

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

Relish your youthful vigor.

Follow the impulses of your heart.

If something looks good to you, pursue it.

But know also that not just anything goes;

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

 

Live footloose and fancy-free  —

You won’t be young forever.

Youth lasts about as long as smoke.

 

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

Before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes,

Before your vision dims and the world blurs

And the winter years keep you close to the fire.

 

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

Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen.

The shades are pulled down on the world.

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

The hum of the household fades away.

You are wakened now by bird-song.

 

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

 

Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past.

Even a stroll down the road has its terrors.

Your hair turns apple-blossom white,

Adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body.

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

While your friends make plans for your funeral.

 

Life, lovely while it lasts, is soon over.

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

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

The spirit returns to God, who first breathed it.

 

It’s all smoke, nothing but smoke.

The Quester says that everything’s smoke.

 

Besides being wise himself, the Quester also taught others

knowledge. He weighed, examined, and arranged many

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

and write the plain truth.

 

The words of the wise prod us to live well.

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

They are given by God, the one Shepherd.

 

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

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

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

The last and final word is this:

 Fear God.

Do what he tells you.

 

And that’s it. Eventually God will bring everything

that we do out into the open and judge it according

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

 Solomon -- a painting from the internet

                         Painting of Solomon

 

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

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

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

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

major accomplishment was in completing the Jewish

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

keep his 300 wives and 700 concubines happy.

 

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

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Issue 353    –     March 17, 2017

Horsin’ Around in Florida

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And next . . . . 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here’s the old cowboy himself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Issue 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 346 – Laughter Therapy

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Issue 346     —     January 9, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get started.

 

 

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

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

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

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In Observation of Tolerance

by Jiggs McDonald

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Vice-President Pence & President Donald Trump

doing a celebratory dance at their inauguration.

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

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

Best wishes,

Stan

RESOURCES FOR YOU:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter, Laurence.  The Laughter Prescription. 

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

Trueblood, Elton. The Humor of Christ.

 

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Issue 345 – Facts and Fun

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Issue 345      –        January 4, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Amen, brother. Tell it like it is.

See ya next time.

— Stan

 

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Issue 343 – ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

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

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

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

 

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

(aka “A Visit from St. Nicholas “)

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

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

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

 

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

 Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

 The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

 In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

 

 The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

 While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

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

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

 

 When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

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

 Away to the window I flew like a flash,

 Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

 

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

 Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

 When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

 But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

 

 With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

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

 More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

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

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

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

 

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

 The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

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

 Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

 

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

 And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

 A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

 And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

 

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

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

 His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

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

  

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

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

 

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

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

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

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

 

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

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

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

 

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

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

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

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

 

Santa Claus: Man or Myth?

by Stan Paregien Sr.

 

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

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

Here is what the little girl named Virginia wrote:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

That is probably not the best approach.

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

“Dear Kids,

“You may be wondering whether Santa Claus is a real person under that red hat and long, white beard. Well, let me help you understand.

“First, your mom and dad are not Santa Claus. Oh, yes, they are the ones who shop for your gifts, pay for them, wrap them and put them under your Christmas tree. After all, a fat Santa couldn’t drag a big bag of gifts down a chimney. But when your parents do all of that it does not make them Santa Claus. And, you know what, their own parents and grandparents probably blessed them the same way with the legend about a wonderful man who was just full of love and generosity.

“The tradition of a Santa Claus is a wonderful experience for most families, but that doesn’t really make any of us Santa Claus. Playing like Santa is real, you see, is a fun way of reminding all of us — parents and children — that there are times when it is important to believe in things we cannot see with our eyes or touch with our hands or measure with a ruler. Things like love, God, trusting in others, cooperation in getting everything done, hope when life is hard, thankfulness for being together as family and friends, joy in giving to others and happiness in receiving gifts and best wishes from others.

That is really what the idea of Santa Claus is all about. Santa is an attitude, a happy and good way of thinking, rather than a person. The job of spreading cheer around the world is too big and wonderful for just one person to do. So most of us are part of “Team Santa.”

“Next year you can help us find the right gifts for other people, and you can enjoy wrapping them and giving them away. Maybe someday you will decide to bless your own children by passing on this tradition, but that choice will be entirely up to you.” 

 

Well, friends, I hope that is helpful to some of you.

Some of my Christian brothers and sisters may seriously object to “playing Santa” and putting an emphasis upon a mythical man rather than on “the reason for the season” – the birth of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Frankly, my wife and I went through a cycle of beliefs and behaviors when our children and grandchildren were young. Early on we observed a deep appreciation for this period as a time of celebrating the birth of Jesus and we included the Santa myth as something distinct from that holy celebration.

Then at some point we decided that the “distinct” part may not have been understandable at all by our children. So, much to the dismay of both sets of our parents, we went through one or two Christmases without Santa and without gifts. Then we returned to our normal practice.

So, . . . I would suggest adding this statement to the letter above for those Christians who are struggling with what to do:

“Kids, the reason we have this Christmas season at all is because of the birth of Jesus the Christ. Notice the spelling of Christmas: “Christ-mas.” We believe in Jesus as the baby born in Bethlehem, but we also believe in him as our savior, our hope for eternal life, our helper in this life. We have to tell you, because God wants us to tell the truth and not lie (1 Peter 3:10), that Santa is not any of these things.

 

“You see, when I was a boy we would play lots of games of make believe. Cowboys. Space travelers. Kings and queens. There were always good people and bad people in those kid games. But we knew they were not real or somehow magical. They were just for fun. That is how it is with Santa, too. So you can have fun with Santa, but God is for real and wants us to love him with all our hearts.”

Maybe that will help.

 

Now, for those who might be interested in reading alternative opinions about what to tell children about Santa Claus, here are some sources:

Brown, Laura Lewis. “Is It Okay to Lie About Santa?” PBS-Parents: http://www.pbs.org/parents/holidays/is-it-okay-lie-about-santa/

 Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? This is a 48-page booklet which is free upon request by writing to The United Church of God, P.O. Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254-1027.

Johnson, David Kyle. “The Santa Claus Lie Debate: Answering Objections.”

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/plato-pop/201312/the-santa-claus-lie-debate-answering-objections

Strobel, Lee.  The Case for Christmas: A Journalist Investigates the Identity of the Child in the Manger.

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1 Corinthians 13

(A Christmas Version)

by an unknown author

 
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just Another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend myriad holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

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Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.

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Christmas Is Only As Strong

As Its Weakest Link

By Curtis K. Shelburne

I don’t usually think of Christmas and chains as going together, unless I’m reading about the ponderously-chained Ghost of Christmas Past who so terrorized old Ebenezer Scrooge! But I believe this to be true: Christmas is a “chain” which is only as strong as its weakest link.

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If Christmas deals only with lights and tinsel, egg nog and poinsettias (all of which I enjoy very much, I hope you understand), and the Yuletide joy and peace, love and good will, we sing about are just artificial twinkles and largely illusory light, then Christmas is a weak and pathetic thing which can’t possibly stand the test of life and time and which will fade a long time before the January sales (and credit card bills) end.

If Christmas has to do only with parties and good times, but nothing to do with hospital rooms and disgusting diagnoses . . . 

If Christmas has to do only with smiles and “Merry Christmases” and nothing to do with hope at a graveside . . .

If Christmas has to do only with sales and not souls, presents and not His Presence, holiday cheer but not lifelong Joy . . .

If Christmas has to do only with Jingle Bells and nothing to do with “God with us,” well, then, Christmas is not up to the task of making a real difference in our lives, and it’s just one more momentary diversion for the despairing, one more false hope for people who know no hope, and it certainly won’t make much difference in life, or in death, or in anything at all very real or substantial.

But if Christmas, and all that is best about this good season, points to real light and hope, glimmering reflections from the Father of Lights, the Giver of Joy, the Sender of the very best Gift, then the Christ of Christmas can use this time of celebration to point us to light that truly is stronger than darkness, hope that is genuinely stronger than despair, and life that is ultimately and infinitely stronger than death. 

Then we discover that the Light of Christmas is real indeed because He is real, and life is far more substantial than death.

Then Christmas means something beautiful and wonderful and real. And Christmas joy can and will last forever.

[Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice. You are invited to visit his website at http://www.curtissheldburne.com. ]

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A Christmas Remembrance
By Carolyn B. Leonard

For people who are dealing with the loss of a loved one, the holidays are often a daunting and difficult time of year. The Holiday season will be not as bright for families who have lost someone or something precious. One of my writer friends who lost her husband in 2012 described it as a year of “unmitigated Hell.” 

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In my tiny rural no-stoplight hometown of Buffalo up near the Kansas border, the home-owned and operated Wilkinson funeral home is doing something to help this season. They are preparing lovely glass angel ornaments which will be personalized with the name of each person they took care of this year. In a special “Christmas In Heaven” program at a church, the personalized Guardian Angel ornaments will then be presented to the family to be placed on their own Christmas tree or otherwise displayed in remembrance of the loved one for years to come.

Not just the immediate family, but the entire town and county are invited to participate in this opportunity to remember and honor all those lost this past year — because in a community like Buffalo it really does take a village to raise a child, and each soul has played a special role in every life. This program will give them the chance to publicly acknowledge their share of the loss.

It is always better to talk about grief and deal with it directly than to ignore or suppress it. When our first grandchild was killed in a car accident just before Christmas the whole community grieved with us. It was a horrible time for our family giving up that beloved and precious toddler, but knowing our grief was shared helped ease our pain. Friends, neighbors, acquaintances – not knowing what else to do – came with tearful hugs, flowers, and casseroles. Those gifts of love, but even more their comforting presence at that time, will never be forgotten.

Everyone feels a little awkward and are unsure what to say, but I liked to hear — “I heard about what happened …I can’t imagine what this has been like for you.” Each broken-hearted person feels their grief is unimaginable, their life has been changed forever. The word ‘imagine’ implies that whatever the griever says will be accepted, not judged or criticized. And then you can do the most important and helpful thing ever … just listen.

The stages of mourning and grief are universal and are experienced by people from all walks of life. Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss. The seven emotional stages of grief are disbelief, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, and acceptance or hope. There is no neat progression from one stage to the next and no set timetable.

The stages we must work through also apply to the loss of a job, a loved pet, a friendship, a marriage, health, or any other negative effect that changed your life. We all know about the collective grief that envelops everyone touched by tragedies such as the Murrah Bombing, the senseless 9-11 deaths, the spring tornado disaster, those life-changing events when everyone mourns. It takes a long time, but healing comes – very slowly, but it comes and you move on.

As you start to adjust to life without that part that is missing, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. You can finally move to acceptance.


Acceptance does not imply happiness. Instead, you can now remember and think about the loved one with sadness, but without that wrenching, intense emotional pain.

Holidays and events filled with tradition can be especially hard to deal with. Death is a topic everyone wants to avoid, even tho the unfortunate truth is that at some point we will all be faced with the uncomfortable reality of loss. Cherish the memories associated with the event, and with the person who is gone. Perhaps a glass ornament Guardian Angel, inscribed with the person’s name, is just the trick you need to find some joy in a Christmas remembrance.

[ Note: The above article was written by our dear Christian friend, Carolyn B. Leonard, of Oklahoma City. Our relationship dates all the way back to about 1985. And for a time we both worked for the same company as newspaper editors, she in Buffalo, Okla., and I in Meade, Kansas. Carolyn is also the author of a helpful book on genealogy. It has the catchy title of Who’s Your Daddy? ]

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Prelude to Christmas Prayer

by Don Betts

Bradenton, FL – Dec., 2013

 Our house is your house, we wish you good cheer,

On this special day we’re glad that you’re here!

Christmas is a time of special reflection,

And to some, a day of great expectation.

 

Our thoughts are mostly of friends and family together,

Without grievous thoughts or fear of the weather.

At our house its always a beautiful day.

So we now take a moment to pray.

 

Let’s pray for peace, tranquility and accord,

And ask a special blessing as we give thanks to our Lord.

Lets be happy with His blessings.

That come in such abundance.

And rid ourselves of earthly things

That come with such redundance.

 

Lord help us to love one another

To be to each  other, sister and brother.

Help us to know, with all due reason

The true meaning of this special season.

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The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus

by Ogden Nash

APR 1 1959, APR 2 1959; Ogden Nash; Americans too serious.;“Frederic Ogden Nash (August 19, 1902 – May 19, 1971) was an American poet well known for his light verse. At the time of his death in 1971, The New York Times said his “droll
verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country’s best-known producer of humorous poetry”.[1] Nash wrote over 500 pieces of comic verse. The best of his work was published in 14 volumes between 1931 and 1972.” – Wikipedia Dec. 8, 2016.

 

In Baltimore there lived a boy.

He wasn’t anybody’s joy.

Although his name was Jabez Dawes,

His character was full of flaws.

 

In school he never led his classes,

He hid old ladies’ reading glasses,

His mouth was open when he chewed,

And elbows to the table glued.

 

He stole the milk of hungry kittens,

And walked through doors marked,

“NO ADMITTANCE.”

He said he acted thus because

There wasn’t any Santa Claus.

 

Another trick that tickled Jabez

Was crying “Boo!” at little babies.

He brushed his teeth, they said in town,

Sideways instead of up and down.

 

Yet people pardoned every sin,

And viewed his antics with a grin,

Till they were told by Jabez Dawes,

“There isn’t any Santa Claus!”

 

Deploring how he did behave,

His parents swiftly sought their grave.

They hurried through the portals pearly,

And Jabez left the funeral early.

 

Like whooping cough, from child to child,

He sped to spread the rumor wild:

“Sure as my name is Jabez Dawes

There isn’t any Santa Claus!”

 

Slunk like a weasel of a marten

Through nursery and kindergarten,

Whispering low to every tot,

“There isn’t any, no there’s not!”

 

The children wept all Christmas eve

And Jabez chortled up his sleeve.

No infant dared hang up his stocking

For fear of Jabez’ ribald mocking.

 

He sprawled on his untidy bed,

Fresh malice dancing in his head,

When presently with scalp-a-tingling,

Jabez heard a distant jingling.

 

He heard the crunch of sleigh and hoof

Crisply alighting on the roof.

What good to rise and bar the door?

A shower of soot was on the floor.

 

What was beheld by Jabez Dawes?

The fireplace full of Santa Claus!

Then Jabez fell upon his knees

With cries of “Don’t,” and “Pretty Please.”

He howled, ‘I don’t know where you read it,

But anyhow, I never said it!’

 

“Jabez” replied the angry saint,

“It isn’t I, it’s you that ain’t.

Although there is a Santa Claus,

There isn’t any Jabez Dawes!”

 

Said Jabez then with impudent vim,

“Oh, yes there is, and I am him!

“Your magic don’t scare me, it doesn’t.”

And suddenly he found he wasn’t!

 

From grimy feet to grimy locks,

Jabez became a Jack-in-the-box,

An ugly toy with springs unsprung,

Forever sticking out his tongue.

 

The neighbors heard his mournful squeal;

They searched for him, but not with zeal.

No trace was found of Jabez Dawes,

Which led to thunderous applause,

And people drank a loving cup

And went and hung their stockings up.

 

All you who sneer at Santa Claus,

Beware the fate of Jabez Dawes,

The saucy boy who mocked the saint.

Donner and Blitzen licked off his paint.

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Christmas Trivia Questions

 

  1. After leaving Bethlehem, to which country did Joseph, Mary, and Jesus travel?

          Answer: Egypt

  1. Every elf has this ornament on the tip of their shoes. Which ornament are we talking about?     Answer: a bell
  1. Name the eight original Reindeer.   Answer:  Blitzen, Comet, Cupid, Dasher, Prancer,    Vixen, Dancer, and Donner
  1. How does a Mexican sheep say “Merry Christmas”? Answer: “Fe-leece Navidad”
  1. Which country is credited with the creation of the Christmas beverage, eggnog?

          Answer: Turkey

  1. Which country does St. Nicholas originally belong to? Answer: Norway
  1. Which was the first state in the United States to recognize Christmas as an official holiday?  Answer:  Alabama
  1. Here is a two-part question about the song, “White Christmas.” (1) In what movie did it first appear . . . and (2) what year did the movie appear?   

          Answers:  “Holiday Inn” in 1942

  1. James Stewart & Donna Reed starred in “It’s A Wonderful Life” in what year?

          Answer: 1946

  1. In that same movie, what was the first name of the angel? Answer:  Clarence

 

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

(Brooklyn Version)

 The author cannot be identified because

he is in a witness protection program.

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 ‘Twas the night before Christmas,

Da whole house was mellow,

Not a creature was stirrin’,

I had a gun unda my pillow.

 

When up on da roof’

I heard somethin’ pound,

I sprung to da window,

To scream, “YO! Keep it down!”

 

When what to my Wanderin’

eyes should appear,

But dat hairy elf Vinny,

And eight friggin’ reindeer.

 

Wit’ a bad hackin’ cough,

And da stencha burped beer,

I knew in a moment

Yo, da Kringle wuz here!

 

Wit’ a slap to dere snouts,

And a yank on dere manes,

He cursed and he shouted,

And he called dem by name.

 

“Yo Tony, Yo Frankie,

Yo Sally, Yo Vito,

Ay Joey, Ay Paulie,

Ay Pepe, Ay Guido!”

 

As I drew out my gun

And hid by da bed,

Down came his boot

On da top a my head.

 

His eyes were all bloodshot,

His body odor wuz scary,

His breath wuz like sewage,

He had a mole dat wuz hairy.

 

He spit in my eye,

And he twisted my head,

He soon let me know

I should consider myself dead.

 

Den pointin’ a fat finga

Right unda my nose,

He let out some gas,

And up da chimney he rose.

 

He sprang to his sleigh,

…..screaming,

And away dey all flew,

Before he troo dem a beatin’.

 

But I heard him exclaim,

Or better yet grunt,

“Merry Christmas to all, and

Bite me, ya hump!”

Christmas Time in Florida

by Stan Paregien

Oh, the lovely plastic holly is secured in our window tonight,

And our electric fireplace, glowing reddish orange, is pretty and bright.

There’s newly sprayed artificial snow on our green plastic palm tree,

So most all of the holiday decorating is through for the Mrs. and me.

 florida-christmas-01

Here in Florida at our large, gated 55-plus retirement community

We have an exciting annual Christmas parade for everyone to see.

All the high-dollar golf carts and bicycles have ribbons and lights,

And party-time reveling is done up to almost 8 pm on some nights.

 

Ah, yes, again here in sunny Florida it is obviously Christmas time.

And many of our home-grown traditions are both weird and sublime.

You see, here ol’ Santa Claus can really kick back and relax,

For no one ever phones him or sends him a text or even a fax.

 

Down here in Florida, Santa Claus is really hip and on the ball.

He has a new cellphone, a GPS and a deep southern drawl.

His staff of elves is so organized he gets presents out on time

Even to Snowbirds temporarily down here for the warm clime.

 

Santa retired from the bitter cold North Pole to right near here

And he has a nice luxury stable at the beach for his reindeer.

Santa’s elves also relocated to condos and they help him a lot,

Making sure Santa Baby quits golfing on the deadline’s dot.

 

Then they hitch the famous reindeer to his amphibious sleigh,

Equipped to land anywhere at all on that extra special day.

He flies so doggone fast the wind tugs at his beachcomber hat,

And he travels around the world delivering this and that.

 

Oh, it is absolutely true: Christmas time in Florida can’t be beat.

You can sit outside on your patio and drink a ice-cold treat.

Or you can stretch out at a warm beach and catch the sight

Of Jimmy Buffett, John Travolta or a swim suit too slight.

 

Friend, during Christmas time in Florida don’t get in a rush,

Just always go for the “Early Bird Special” to avoid a crush.

‘Cause Snowbirds clog the beaches, cafes, theaters and the like–

And they cause our living expenses here in Florida to spike.

 

Well, Christmas time in Florida is about perfect in every way:

We leave pretzels and a margarita for Santa on that special day.

In Paradise we scrape no ice and shovel not an ounce of snow,

So we’re happy here in Florida and we ain’t putting on a show.

[This poem copyrighted by Stan Paregien in 2014.]

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Some Punny Poems & More

The Paregien Journal  –  Issue 339  –  July 25, 2016  –  Stan Paregien, Editor

2015--10--13   2167--N   Sedona, AZ  -   Stan Paregien and Don Betts -  copyrighted by Peg Paregien

Don Betts and I and our much better halves– Judy and Peggy — spent a delightful week together in Sedona, Arizona last year. But the point of this current issue of THE PAREGIEN JOURNAL is to put down persistent rumors and to established beyond a reasonable doubt . . . that Don and I can do something other than sit around and look pretty.

Or not.

Well, we’re going to try, anyway.

Secondarily, we have had thousands of people begging on bended knees for poetry based on puns. 

Or not.

Mostly not. However, I kinda like ’em. Most of my are short and on the funny side. Anyway, kind of like indigestion, I sure feel better getting them out of my system. So I am including several here.

However, we begin with a poem by my dear friend Don Betts. The man is a remarkable writer and poet, especially considering the fact he never tried his hand at it until he was 82. So we lead off with his extremely appropriate poem titled “Conventional Confusion.” It is just in time for the beginning of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and that is what it is all about. And, as with many of Don’s poems, the last few lines jump up and bite you on the butt. You’ll enjoy it.

Or not.

But mostly you’ll enjoy it, I think.

Friends, the pilot has turned the warning light signifying that we are about to take off. It may be a bumpy ride, so please buckle up.

Betts, Don  -  Conventional Confusion  -- July 19, 2016

And then things kinda go down hill from there.

Poem 447   About Those Old Accountants  --  by Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted  June 14, 2016

Poem 448   Old Anesthesiologists  --  by Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted  June 14, 2016

Poem 449   Procrastinators and Death  --  by Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted  June 14, 2016

Betts, Don   --   Home, Sweet Home  -- April 29, 2015

Poem 450   Old Quilters Never Die  --  Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted June 14, 2016

Poem 451   Aging Football Quarterbacks  --  Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted June 14, 2016

Poem 452   Four Sets of Twins  --  Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted June 14, 2016

Poem 460  The Warning Sign -- A Punny Poem - by Stan Paregien 2016--06--28  - pun

Poem 461  Canned at the Cannery  --  A Punny Poem - by Stan Paregien - 2016-06-28  - pun

Betts, Don - Unproblematic Solution - July 16, 2016 - Matt 1 v1-17

Poem 462  Excuse My Confusionality --  by Stan Paregien - 2016-07-2016

Poem 463  The Deer Slayer - A Punny Poem  --  by Stan Paregien - 2016-07-24 - pun

Poem 464  Sausage Links - A Punny Poem - by Stan Paregien - 2016-07-24 - pun

Poem 465  How to Attract Women  - A Punny Poem - by Stan Paregien - 2016-07-24 - pun

Poem 453    A Cure for Chili's Main Problem   --  Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted June 14, 2016Poem 456   What Happened to Customer Service  -   by Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted 2016-06-16Poem 457   The Legend of Mystery  Mountain -- by Stan Paregien Sr - 2016-06-16  -  Page 1 of  6

Poem 457   The Legend of Mystery  Mountain -- by Stan Paregien Sr - 2016-06-16  -  Page 2 of  6

Poem 457   The Legend of Mystery  Mountain -- by Stan Paregien Sr - 2016-06-16  -  Page 3 of  6

Poem 457   The Legend of Mystery  Mountain -- by Stan Paregien Sr - 2016-06-16  -  Page 4 of  6

Poem 457   The Legend of Mystery  Mountain -- by Stan Paregien Sr - 2016-06-16  -  Page 5 of  6

Poem 457   The Legend of Mystery  Mountain -- by Stan Paregien Sr - 2016-06-16  -  Page 6 of  6

Some of you know that Peggy and I recently spent ten delightful days in bonnie ol’ Scotland. The photo below shows us standing in front of our hotel in Ayr, Scotland.

Or not.

2016--07--07   03G  Calzean Castle -  S and P Paregien -  by E Sklair

Right, it ain’t our hotel. But we did visit there. And in the near future I hope to have many of our Scotland photos posted online. More about that another time.

Thanks for stopping by the ol’ bunkhouse to visit a spell. Y’all come back soon, ya hear?

— Stan Paregien Sr. (aka, “Cowboy Stan”)

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Life in Florida, Part 5

The Paregien Journal  –  Issue 337  –  June 21, 2016  –  Stan Paregien, Editor

Life in Florida, Part 5

2016--05--08   A--1C    Bradenton, FL -- Peggy Paregien on Mothers Day -- by Stan Paregien

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Hillbillies and Flatlanders

My cousin Jerry Paregien and his wife Muriel live in the nose-bleed heights of the far northeast mountains of Tennessee. I am told that he generates his house electricity from the same system that operates his still a hundred yards down in the woods from his house. But that is another story.

Since we have lived here in the Flatlands of Florida, they have been to see us about three times. And we have a boat-load of fun doing whatever we want. I had a sister and no brother, but ol’ “Jay-ree” is about as close as I’ve come. He is a scholar (written a couple of eBooks about particular firearms), a Southern gentleman (he is actually an immigrant, from that other country, . . . California) and our Christian brother and friend. 

Part of the fun we have and the bond we share is that Peggy and Muriel get along so doggoned well. Of course, each of them was a “P.K.”  For the uninitiated, that is a code for “Preacher’s Kid.” And they were. Muriel’s father was a well-known preacher in the mid-West and central California. He had qualms about tying the marriage knot for her, considering her mate selection; but it appears to have worked out. Her brother, Victor Knowles, is a long-time preacher who has lived in the Joplin, Missouri area for decades. He is the editor of ONE BODY, a magazine advocating Christian unity. And . . . Peggy’s father was a preacher in Nebraska (Kearney and Albion) and mostly in Ventura, California. Plus, Peggy was married to a guy who preached full time for about ten years ( I know him well). So Peggy and Muriel have fun discussing the pluses and minuses of living in the glass house of a parsonage.

Anyway, these photos show a little of what we did here this time.

2016--05--14   A1  Bradenton, FL -- Peggy Paregien and Muriel Paregien.jpg

2016--05--14   A2  Sarasota, FL -- Cousins - Stan and Jerry Paregien - by Peggy Paregien

2016--05--14   A3  Sarasota, FL -- Jerry and Muriel Paregien - by Peggy Paregien

2016--05--14   A4  Sarasota, FL -- Stan and Peggy Paregien - by Jerry Paregien

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Note the electric scoot-mobile Jerry has been using for about six months for longer walks. It is an amazing little thing that folds up compactly and only weights about 35 pounds, as I recall. So it gets an amazing number of miles per gallon of gas.

2016--05--17  B01   Bradenton, FL  --  nearly 30 million tourists visited Florida in the first quarter of 2016

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2016--05--15  A8B  Sarasota, FL - Old Guys Napping

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2016--05--20   A01   Bradenton, FL  is 6th fastest growing town in Florida, 46th in the nation

2016--06--15  05A   Venice, FL  -  Dr Brian Smith on his tricycle - by Peggy Paregien

2016--06--15  05B   Venice, FL  -  Dr Brian Smith on his tricycle - by Peggy Paregien

2016--06--15  05C   Venice, FL  -  Hand-made quilt given to Dr Brian and Ruth Smith - by Peggy Paregien

This beautiful quilt, above, was given to the Smiths recently by a friend — Jean Pendergrass. And . . . that reminds me of a poem about quilters . . . 

Poem 450   Old Quilters Never Die  --  Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted June 14, 2016

2016--06--15  05D   Venice, FL  -  View from condo of  Dr Brian and Ruth Smith - by Peggy Paregien

2016--06--15  05E   Venice, FL  -  Stan and Peg Paregien with Ruth and Brian Smith  - by Bonnie Hamill

2016--06--19   01--A  Bradenton, FL  -- 8 dogs in the back of a convertible car - by Peggy Paregien

2016--06--19   02--A  Sarasota, FL  -- Don Betts and Judy - by Peggy Paregien

These are two of our favorite people in Florida. No, make that the United States. Naw, make that the continent of North America. Aw, shucks, you catch my drift. 

2016--06--19   03-A    Sarasota,  FL  -- Clay Landes -  by Stan Paregien

Be sure to check back for the next posting on THE PAREGIEN JOURNAL, as it will tell more about Clay’s story of faith. And it will have a copy of that great song he wrote.

Now, a very important personal note . . . 

Mr. and Mrs. Stan Paregien, Jr.

2016--05--10   Anniversary of Becky and Stan Paregien Jr - May 10, 1986 in Stroud, OK

2016--05--29--B   30th Anniversary renewal of wedding vows of Becky and Stan Paregien Jr -  married May 10, 1986

2016--05--29--C   Waterloo, IL - 30th Anniversary renewal of wedding vows of Becky and Stan Paregien Jr -  married May 10, 1986

Major Stan Paregien Jr., U.S.A.F., and wife Becky renewing their vows  on their 30th wedding anniversary. Columbia, Illinois. May 29, 2016

2016--05--29--C2   Waterloo, IL - 30th Anniversary renewal of wedding vows of Becky and Stan Paregien Jr -  married May 10, 1986

2016--05--29--C7   Waterloo, IL - Stan Paregien Jr, and Becky with kids - Daniel and Jodi - 30th anniversary

Becky & Stan Paregien Jr. with their children: Daniel (also in the U.S.A.F.) of St. Louis, Mo., and Jodi P. Barrow of Arkansas

2016--05--29--D   Waterloo, IL - Brandon Barrow, Jodi P Barrow and Bailee

Jodi Paregien Barrow with her husband Brandon (U.S. Coast Guard) and daughter Bailee (not shown, son Dominic)

Our 54th Wedding Anniversary

Peggy and I celebrated our 54th wedding anniversary on May 31, 2016. This year it was just a little different. Okay, a whole lot different.

Previously, we celebrated it together by eating at a nice restaurant or going some place special. On our 25th anniversary we made our first trip to lovely Hawaii. On our 50th we flew to London and took a bus tour of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and one day in France. 

This time we also celebrated it with a trip to a special place. Only she went alone. And all day and night on May 31st she was enjoying being at sea on a 12-day cruise aboard the Holland American Oosterdam, as the guest of our friend and neighbor Evelyn Skliar. Meanwhile, I was home walking the dog and watering the flowers, neither of which I bargained for when we moved to Florida [upon her return I turned in my license to do such].

Oh, well. One of the little zigs and zags in life. 

Poem 445   Another Anniversary, My Love  --  by Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted  May 31, 2016 -- Page 1 of  2

Poem 445   Another Anniversary, My Love  --  by Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted  May 31, 2016 -- Page 2 of  2

 

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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

 

 

 

Issue 330 – Stacy’s 45th Birthday

The Paregien Journal  —  Issue 330  —  April 20, 2016  — Stan Paregien, Sr.

Well, well, well. It finally happened. Our youngest child has turned, . . . gulp, . . . 45 years of age. Where, oh where, did all the years go? Peggy and I sometimes look back to when we were dating, 1961-1962, and recall how we thought both sets of our parents were pretty ancient people. They were not much older than 45. Now our own daughter is 45 . . . and Peggy and I are . . . , well, just a wee bit older than that ourselves.

It is time to wish our dear daughter, Stacy Evelyn Paregien Magness, a very happy birthday. We love you very much, sweetie. 

Poem 439   A Poem for All Adopted Children   -  by Stan Paregien Sr - Copyrighted April 6, 2016

And now, . . . a few “blasts from the past.”

1973-090--A   Piru, CA  --  Stan and Peggy Paregien with son Gene and daughter Stacy at Harold Paregien's house

Peggy & Stan Paregien with children Stacy and Gene (ak Stan Jr.) at the Harold & Evelyn Paregien home on the Edwards Ranch, just 1 mile west of Piru, Calif., in 1983.

1974--014--StanParegien--poem--PortraitOfMyDaughter

1974--054  Stacy Paregien- -LakeTexhoma - near Durant, OK

1975-006  --  CouncilBluffs, IA  --  Stan Paregien Family - Peggy, Gene, Stacy

The Stan Paregien family in 1975 in Council Bluffs, Iowa

1977-002--A  Stroud, OK -- Stan Paregien Family -- Peggy, Gene and Stacy

1977-042  LakeCharles, LA - Stacy Paregien and Gene playing in a rain storm - by Stan Paregien

1977-054  -  Stroud, OK  -  Stacy Paregien on Shag

Stacy and her horse “Shag” in Stroud, Oklahoma

1978--059--A   Ventura,  CA --  School photo of  Stacy Paregien

1979--026  Stroud, OK -- Stacy Paregien's  8th Birthday in April

1979--031--A  -  -StroudOK---Gene and Stacy Paregien drag a Christmas tree up from our neighbor's pasture

Oh, hey, did I mention that the aggressively spreading Red Cedar tree is not only a great nuisance to farmers and ranchers . . . but it is a major cause of allergy problems in Oklahoma. But there we were with that doggone big tree in the middle of our living room for at least two weeks prior to Christmas. It also dried out very fast, despite a watering hole under the base, so it became a ball of fire just waiting to happen. Guess we were just dumb, ignorant . . . and happy way back then.

1980--011  ---  Stroud, OK  --  Stacy Paregien

Ain’t she just plum cute?

1980--016  --  Stroud, OK  --  Stacy Paregien's horse

1980--021   Stacy Paregien's birthday --  with Gene

1980--030--H  Stroud, OK  --  Stacy Paregien on a raft

1980--054--OK--Lake Tenkiller--Stacy Paregien diving into a pool

1981--033--A  Stroud, OK  Stan Paregien, Stacy and Gene - cowboys on the farm

1981--047--B  --  Stroud, OK  --  Peggy Paregien -Stacy - Gene - Stan

1982--029  -- Stroud, OK  --  Stacy Paregien's birthday party

That is their cousin, Connie King (now Williams), at the far right. Daughter of Bill and Paula King. 

1982--044  --  Stroud, OK  -- Stacy Paregien -- horse Dolly

 

1983--055  --  Stroud, OK  --  Stan Paregien baptizing daughter Stacy on Dec 25th at the Church of Christ

 

1983--063 -- Stroud, OK -  Stacy Peggy on her 12th birthday - April 20

1983--080 -- Stroud, OK  -  Stacy Paregien with Kathy Lynnh Beckmann on Stacy's horse

 

1984--042--StroudOK--StacyParegien--on-Paula

1984--059--OK--Stroud--Stacy Paregien -- fall

1985--047--LaverneOK--StacyParegien--rattlesnake

1985--088--OK--Stroud--Stacy Paregien -- 14th birthday -- April 20

1985--098--OK--Stroud--Peggy and Stan Paregien Sr with Stan Jr and Stacy--April

1985--099--OK--Stroud--Stacy Paregien

1986--007--LaverneOK--StacyParegien-Bucky--xmas--1

Oops. That label, above, should have read “1986.”

1986--046--LaverneOK---JohnErickson-BradLoffswold-StacyParegien

Since then, good ol’ John has added some 60 books to his “Hank the Cowdog” series and countless CDs of “Hank the Cowdog’s Favorite Songs” (most of which feature John’s singing voice and musical expertise, plus his songwriting skills). Quite a home-grown success. He lives on his ranch outside of Perryton, Texas.

1987--001--D--Xmas--Stan-Stacy-Peg---LaverneOK--1

1987--015--StacyParegien--GaryCreed--LavernOK

1987--017-- Stacy Paregien -- Sr Photo -- Snyder, TX

1987--042--SD--MtRushmore--BelindaBond-StacyParegien-Stan-----byPP

1987--055-- Laverne, OK  Stacy Paregien with her mom, Peggy

1987--062-- Laverne, OK   -  Stan and Peggy Paregien with Stacy

1987--063-- Laverne, OK   -  Stacy Paregien in Sept

1988--012-- Snyder, TX  --  Stacy Paregien and date on  Halloween

Stacy Paregien with DeWayne Clinkenbeard in about 1988 in Snyder, TX

1988--018--StacyParegien--SnyderTX

1988--020--F  --  San Diego, CA  --  WWA Convention  --actor Iron Eyes Cody with Stacy Paregien

Stacy Paregien with movie actor Iron Eyes Cody at the Western Writers of America conference in the summer of 1988 in San Diego, Calif.

1988--040--SnyderTX--StacyParegien-DuaneClinkenbeard--Halloween

1989-006--D--SnyderTX--StacyParegien---May

1989-006--E--SnyderTX--StacyParegien---StanSr-Peg--StanJr

Here is what a group of female, Oklahoma domestic engineers can accomplish:

1989-008--xmas-EdmondOK

1989-0181989-031  --  Snyder, TX  --  Stacy Paregien -- sch photo - senior year

1989-053B--StacyParegien-graduation--SnyderTX

1989-056--StacyParegien-graduation--SnyderTX

1989-142--TX--Snyder-- Stacy Paregien - Dwain Clinkenbeard - prom

1990--0003--Wedding--John Magness - Stacy Paregien - Snyder, Texas

1990--0021--SnyderTX--PeggyParegien--Stacy--19thBirthday--April20

1991--006--LongviewTX--StacyMagness-John-Dylan--Nov7

1994--011-John-Stacy-Dylan--xmas--1

1995--005--TX--Kilgore--Stacy-Dylan-Christal-JohnMagness

Stacy & John Magness with their growing family: Dylan and little sister Christal. Kilgore, Texas – 1995

1998--057 -- Beckville, TX - Stacy Paregien Magness

1999-040-- John Magness - Stacy - Dylan - Christal

1999-081-- Edmond, OK -- xmas -- Paregien - Magness families

1999-138

2014--09--11   02  Bastrop, TX  --  Christal and Stacy Magness -- by Peggy Paregien

2014--09--11   04  Bastrop, TX  --  Christal Magness - Stacy Magness - Peggy Paregien

2015--12--10   2696    Snook, Texas  --  Family of John and Stacy P Magness

2015--12--10   2698    Snook, Texas  --  John and Stacy Magness with Dylan and Christal _edited-1

2040  --  2015--09--24  Snook, TX - Stacy Paregien Magness and hubby John - 25th Anniv

We are so proud of you, Stacy. You will always have a special place in our hearts.

— Love, Mom and Dad

End.

__________

NEXT TIME:  “Music: Merle Haggard & More.” That issue on April 25th will contain my personal essay on the life and career of country music star Merle Haggard (who died just recently). Lots of photos and probably lots of tidbits of information about him that you never knew. Also, some information about the resurgence of “house concerts” across the country. And a handful of songs with guitar chords for your use or to pass along to others. It is a good ‘un.

 

 

Issue 323 – Life in Florida, Part 1

The Paregien Journal  –  Issue 323  –  Friday, Feb. 12, 2016

Stan Paregien, Editor

Life in Florida, Part 1

This issue is devoted to showing  a number of photos taken at some of our recent music events. Since moving to Bradenton, Florida in June of 2013, we have hosted maybe 5 or 6 music jams in our home. We maxed out with 19 folks the last time. So we thought about hosting a music jame at our clubhouse in Plantation Grove MHP in Bradenton, Florida.That would allow us to invite a lot more folks and several more musicians. 

As we were exploring that idea, I also decided to add poetry to the mix. You see, there is a long-standing tradition at cowboy festivals across the country of including music, poetry, storytelling and the reading of formal papers on various cowboy subjects. So Peggy and I decided to give it and try here. 

The first time we hosted a “Music & Poetry Show” at our clubhouse we had some 42 folks show up. And several people were prepared to read some poetry for us. It seems to be a welcomed combination, though unusual in this area. So please come enjoy the fun. If you plan an instrument and/or sing, we’d be happy to have you perform. We would particularly like to add a fiddle player, a harmonica player, a dulcimer player, a mandolin play and even a drummer or a steel guitar player. They just seem to be scarce in these parts. And if you want to read poems, each being no more than 4 minutes in length, we’d be happy for you to share with us.

 

2015--11--20   2672    Bradenton, FL --  Music and Poetry Jam -  copyrighted by Peggy Paregien

2015--11--20   2674    Bradenton, FL --  Music and Poetry Jam -  copyrighted by Peggy Paregien

2015--11--20   2675    Bradenton, FL --  Music and Poetry Jam -  copyrighted by Peggy Paregien

2015--11--20   2676    Bradenton, FL --  Music and Poetry Jam -  copyrighted by Peggy Paregien

2015--11--20   2678    Bradenton, FL --  Music and Poetry Jam -  copyrighted by Peggy Paregien

2015--11--20   2679    Bradenton, FL --  Music and Poetry Jam -  copyrighted by Peggy Paregien

2015--12--11   2705--A    Bradenton, FL --  Music and Poetry Jam

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2016--0006--A   Jan 15  - Bradenton, FL   PG Music and Poetry Jam - by Stan Paregien2016--0006--B   Jan 15  - Bradenton, FL   PG Music and Poetry Jam - by Stan Paregien2016--0008   Jan 15  Bradenton, FL -- PG Music and Poetry Jam -- by Virginia Corbin

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2016--0009   Jan 15  Bradenton, FL -- PG Music and Poetry Jam -- by Virginia Corbin2016--0010   Jan 15  Bradenton, FL -- PG Music and Poetry Jam -- by Virginia Corbin

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Those who share some poems with us last time included Evelyn Sklair, Virginia Corbin, Joyce Sparks, Don Betts, Judy Teeuwen, Mike Teeuwen, Eunice Iacovacci and Tom White.

So, there you have it. Our “Music & Poetry Shows” are just a lot of casual, home-grown fun. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. Each person who reads a poem, plays an instrument and/or sings a song is doing it just out of the pure joy of sharing with our friends and neighbors and other guests. Please note that no one involved with this event receives a payment for services rendered, other than the applause of the audience.

Below you’ll find the flyer for the next show. Won’t you please consider joining us??

Flyer 1 - for 2016--02--19  Music and Poetry Show -- by Stan Paregien

NOTE: Sometimes we have new folks say, “What the heck is finger food?” That just means we’d like to only have things that can be eaten with one’s fingers as we do not sit out knives or forks. We’re looking for non-messy cookies, carrots, crackers, chips, celery sticks, peanuts, and such. Coffee (both regular and decalf) and water are free.

Invite a friend and come on down.

End.

 

Issue 307 – Marco Rubio — Part 1 of His Life

Issue 307 –   Oct. 10, 2015    –   The Paregien Journal    –    Stan Paregien Sr., Editor

One of the ascending stars in the Republican Party is Marco Rubio. He is currently the junior U.S. Senator from my adopted home state of Florida. And he is one of several people campaigning to win the Republican nomination to become their candidate for the 2016 presidential race.

What follows is a profile of Senator Rubio which I gleaned from his book titled An American Son: A Memoir (New York City: Sentinel, 2012).

Part I of this profile examines Senator Rubio’s rather modest family roots. While not born in a log cabin like Abe Lincoln, he does come from a line of folks who as Cubans had personal goals, dreams and ambitions only to wind up losing those and even losing their beloved country to Castro’s communism. It also shows how new generations of immigrants often become successful because of the examples of their parents and grandparents who taught them by example not to give up when faced with adversity, poverty and overwhelming odds. It is a story well worth a few minutes of your time.

*   *  *  *  *

Marco Rubio, AN AMERICAN SON -- book cover, front

Marco Rubio, AN AMERICAN SON -- book cover, back

Part 1

Rubio’s ancestors were hard working men and women in Cuba. His great-grandparents – Carlos Pérez and Ramona García —  had emigrated from Spain to Cuba, where they bought land and began farming near the village of Jicotea. Carlos did quite well as a farmer but, unlike many of his neighbors, he refused to sell his land at fire-sale prices to wealthy businessmen who operated with the blessing of the American military.

Ramona was the matriarch of the family, and it was a large one. She had three children by a previous relationship and an additional fourteen children by this last relationship, but only married Mr. Pérez when he was on his death bed.

His maternal grandfather, Mr. Pedro Victor García was born on January 31, 1899 in the dirt-poor province of Villa Clara. That was the year that the Spanish occupation forces left the country for good, only to be replaced by American military leaders.

In 1900, the political leaders in the United States decided to annex Cuba. However, the Cubans were allowed to vote on the issue. And, against the prospect of American-generated prosperity for the island, Cubans voted against annexation and in favor of independence.

Marco Rubio’s father, Pedro Victor García, came down with polio as a child. The disease left him with a crippled leg which ruled out most farm work. It was a blessing, though, in that his parents kept him in school. He would be the only one of the 17 children to get a decent education and to have any real hope of getting a fairly good job.

Mr. Garcia loved to read and to learn everything he could about his world. He became a great believer in the future of the republic of Cuba. And he was a firm advocate of intellectual freedom and self-reliance. So much so that when his father died, he declined to change his last name (his mother’s name) to that of his father even though it meant he would not receive any of the man’s estate. Late in his life he would pass those high virtues on to his grandson, Marco Rubio.

Pedro Victor García was plucky enough to apply for a job with the railroad and lucky enough to get a job as a telegraph operator. Then he began working his way up the career ladder.

Along the way, he traveled on business to the town of Cabaiguán. There he met, fell in love with and married Dominga Rodríguez. She had grown up in an environment of grinding poverty and she had only finished the 6th grade. Still, they were married in 1920 when he was 21 and she was almost 17. They had children and made a nice living that afforded a large house staffed with servants and nannies.

However, late in 1924, their world was turned upside down. Pedro Victor García suffered not only humiliation about a significant financial loss when he was demoted at work (in favor of a man with better political connections) and, ultimately, was fired. Their situation put them into a crisis mode as he, with his severe physical disability, simply could not find a good job. So he walked all over the city to accept part-time, occasional work doing menial jobs. That in itself was a challenge, since he could not walk without a cane and often became unbalanced and fell and hurt himself.

By 1930, Pedro Victor García and his family had been forced out of their fine home. They settled into a one-room house in a poor section of town. Still, their family dignity kept them from acting like victims and from looking like their often dirty and dejected neighbors. And somehow, Mr. García scraped together enough money to keep his large family fed and clothed.

Then one day he was hired to work in a tobacco mill. No, it was not a manufacturing job. He simply read interesting and inspiring articles and stories to the scores of workers who worked at tables hand-rolling cigars and cigarettes. The company’s idea was that such exposure would lessen the drudgery of such tedious work, thus resulting in a lower turnover of employees. The work was easy for Pedro and he enjoyed learning the material and making it as entertaining as possible, but it did not pay much at all.

Slowly, though, his own dreams for his career and for the members of his family began to fade in the face of stark reality. His children had to find jobs of their own at very young ages. That included Marco Rubio’s own mother. The entire family, hoping for better job opportunities, left Cabaiguán in 1940 and moved to the capital city of Havana.

There in Havana, Pedro Victor García and his family moved into a small apartment in a low-income government housing project. Each building had several apartments, but they were so austere they had to share a bathroom in the common areas.

Mario Rubio’s mother, Oriales García, went to work as a cashier at a small retail store. She gave every cent she made to her own mother who handled the family’s money and paid their bills.

PATERNAL GRANDPARENTS

Meanwhile, Marco Rubio’s paternal grandparents were having their own struggles. Antonio Rubio’s parents both died when he was only 14. He lived with relatives for a time, then ran away to Havana where he would tackle life on its unforgiving terms. Eventually, he met and married Eloisa Reina there in Havana. They, then, were the paternal grandparents of Marco Rubio.

Antonio and Eloisa (Reina) Rubio had their first child in 1920 when he was about 35 and she was about 28 years of age. That child died at birth, but they had seven other children including Marco’s father, Mario Rubio (born Oct. 29, 1926). Antonio and Eloisa ran a small catering business, even though she suffered from bouts of tuberculosis many periods of her life. She would cook breakfast and lunch meals for workers at a big cigar factory and Antonio would deliver the meals to them.

Their successful enterprise enabled them to live in a large, comfortable house. But their own world turned upside down then that cigar factory closed. Antonio Rubio and his family had no choice but to give up their business and home and to move in with relatives. From that day forward, Antonio’s ambitions and dreams were tempered with the cold reality that he would have to become a lowly-paid street vendor. He didn’t like it but he had to feed his family, so that is what he did.

Marco’s father, only eight years old at the time, had to quit school and go to work. He had not yet learned to read and write, but he was bright and learned those skills entirely on his own.

Then in 1935, Antonio Rubio’s beloved wife died of pneumonia (years before the invention of life-saving penicillin). She was only 42, and son Mario was only nine. That left Marco’s paternal grandfather with the sole responsibility for seven children between the ages of 16 and 4. He began to put more time into his work selling on the streets and largely leaving his children to care for themselves. It was not unusual at all for the entire family to go to bed with hunger gnawing at their stomachs. Eventually, Antonio Rubio moved in with another woman and, though they never married, they had one child together.

Young Mario went to work as a security guard in a nearby cafeteria and would continue to support himself for the next 70 years. At age 14 he began living out on his own. And at age 19, his father Antonio died from pneumonia, so he learned to be a survivor.  He was allowed to sleep on wooden crates in a storage area at the cafeteria, as did a few other young men.

One day Mario Rubio struck up a conversion with a co-worker, cashier Oriales García. They began dating and she told friends he was really handsome, that he looked like the American actor Tyrone Power. They married on April 28, 1949 and lived in a small apartment. Mario was 22 and Oriales was 18. Their first child, Mario Victor Rubio, was born in 1950.

Mario dreamed of starting his own radio and TV repair shop or of even becoming a singer and entertainer. Oriales had a dream of becoming an actress. Those dreams—like the dreams held for a time by their respective parents and grandparents—faded rapidly as the economic realities of raising a family began to dominate their lives. Plus, Mario injured a leg by stepping into a hole during a baseball game. The damage was so bad that he would forever walk with a distinct limp.

1957: FROM CUBA TO MIAMI

One of Oriales (García) Rubio’s sisters emigrated to the United States. That woman saw opportunity everywhere and began urging them to move there, too. So on May 27, 1956, Mario and Oriales (García) Rubio and son Mario Victor Rubio—along with Oriales’ parents — Pedro V.  and Dominga (Rodríguez) — García arrived in New York City. The harsh winter there proved too much, and the next year they all moved to Miami, Florida.

In Miami, the elder Mario and his wife Oriales both went to work in a factory where aluminum lawn chairs were assembled. Soon he was also training on the side to work as a bar boy (a bartender’s assistant). Then he was hired by the Roney Plaza Hotel in beautiful Miami Beach. But he was still dreaming of opening his own small business. In fact, he opened several such ventures on the side and they all failed.

By 1959, Mario Rubio had become a bar tender and was making a decent wage. But he regularly worked from early evening until about 2 a.m. or so. And that year he and Oriales had their second child, a daughter they named Barbara Rubio. And the patriarch of the relocated clan, Pedro V. García, returned  to the old country by himself. In March of 1961, with Fidel Castro ruling Cuba and moving steadily toward Communism, Oriales Rubio returned to Cuba and convinced her ailing father to return to Miami with her. And he did so. But he would never again see his native country nor would he ever again see his brothers and sisters.

In April of 1961, some Cubans-in-exile — urged on and supported by the Central Intelligence Committee of the United States — attacked Castro’s forces at the Bay of Pigs. They were soundly defeated and it was an embarrassment for the John F. Kennedy administration.

In 1962, the United States levied an all-out economic embargo against Cuba. It was in October of 1962 that the leaders of Russia and the United States were engaged in a “stare down” called “the Cuban missile crisis.” Russia blinked and took their missiles back home.

1964 was the year that Mario Rubio took his young family out to Los Angeles, where he thought he and his wife might be able to do better, financially. This was in the middle of America’s cultural revolution and racial rioting. So they returned to Miami and in 1966 bought their very first house. Oriales’ parents, Pedro and Dominga García took up residence in a nearby apartment. That very next year, Dominga had a heart attack and died.

It was on May 28, 1971 that Mario and Oriales welcomed a completely unplanned blessing to their home: a baby boy they named Marco _____ Rubio. And, lo and behold, in 1972 they added a baby girl, Veronica Rubio. Another celebration came when, in 1975, Mario and Oriales Rubio proudly became citizens of these United States of America.

The Catholic Church was destined to become an important factor in the life of young Marco Rubio. As a child, his mother and he attended Mass each Saturday evening just down the street at St. Raymond Catholic Church.

Marco was nearing his 5th birthday when the manager of the hotel where his father worked up and offered him a job managing an apartment complex near the airport. His boss said he would get a free apartment, the same wages, and would also be able to earn extra money by working at the hotel as a bar tender on the weekends. Mario Rubio jumped at the chance, and the family moved to the apartment.

And then disaster hit, again. The owners of the apartment complex sold it and Mario was without a job and the family was without a home. Soon his father found another job as an apartment manager, this  time in Hialeah. The family moved into a house nearby. Marco started school at Kensington Park Elementary.

A few months later, a large management company took over the apartments in Hialeah and, again, the elder Mario Rubio was without a job. Dispirited and desperate, again, he began working with a relative who painted houses. The hotels were not hiring. Tourism in Miami was in a downward spiral, partly because of the widespread media coverage of the area’s increase in crime – particularly murders and drug usage and sales.

1979:  VIVA LAS VEGAS

So one day early in May of 1979, Mario and Oriales Rubio loaded up their two youngest children and their meager belongings and moved to the bright lights of Las Vegas. That’s when Mario, now 52 years old, ran into the twin evils of iron-clad unionism and age discrimination. The hotels were booming and hiring, but only at entry level positions and wages. The union bosses made sure outsiders were at the bottom of the lists and that the better jobs were filled by younger union members moving up. Mario had been a head bartender for over 20 years, but now he had to settle for a job at a casino hotel as a bartender’s assistant at much less than he had been making.

They lived in a working class neighborhood at 3104 East Lava Avenue on the north side of Las Vegas. Their first friends were a family who were Mormons and who invited them to their church’s social activities and worship services. Soon the traditionally Catholic Rubio family, minus the skeptical Mario, were regulars at the Mormon Church. And soon Marco, his sister Veronica and his mother Oriales were official baptized members of the Mormon Church.

Marco wrote of those days, “All in all, the Mormon Church provided the sound moral structure my mother had wanted for us, and a circle of friends from stable, God-fearing families. When we left the church a few years later, mostly at my instigation, we did so with gratitude for its considerable contribution to our happiness in those years” (p. 40).

Marco and his younger sister Veronica attended C.C. Ronnow Elementary School near their house. The racial makeup of the school was much more diverse than they had experienced back in Miami. Instead of mostly Cuban-Americans, here the students were white, a few Hispanics and many black students (bused from a neighborhood several miles from there).

During his Las Vegas days, Marco took advantage of many opportunities to interact with and to learn from his grandfather, Pedro Victor García (whom they called Papá). The old man spent many hours a day sitting on their small front porch, particular after meals, when he would light up a Cuban cigar and read a newspaper or a book. And he was free with his praise of the United States and of such men as Harry Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt. And he graciously invited Marco to ask him questions on any topic.

In his 2012 book, An American Son: A Memoir, Marco wrote lovingly about how his maternal grandfather, Pedro Victor García, had such a great influence on his own life:

“Papá seemed to know something about almost everything, or everything that interested me anyway. He was a gifted storyteller, the talent he had learned as a cigar factory lector [back in Cuba – sp]. His accounts were exciting and forceful, rich in imagery and telling anecdotes. They held me spellbound.

“My interest in politics began around the time we moved to Vegas, and by 1980 politics was a preoccupation second only to football. Two events had captured my attention that year: Senator Edward Kennedy’s challenge to President Carter for the Democratic presidential nomination and the Iran hostage crisis. I was a Kennedy supporter. With rapt attention I watched the Democratic convention in New York, and was crushed by the outcome of what seemed an excruciatingly slow delegate count that gave the nomination to President Carter. I was inspired by Senator Kennedy’s concession speech.

“My grandfather didn’t admire either of them. Ronald Reagan was his man. He despised President Carter because of the Iran hostage crisis, a humiliation Papá seemed to feel personally. America must be a strong country, he constantly preached, or the world would succumb to darkness, and a strong country requires a strong leader. He thought the  world didn’t respect or fear Carter. He was weak, he said, and other countries preyed on his weakness. That’s why the Soviets had invaded Afghanistan and the Iranians had seized our embassy. He blamed the failed attempt to rescue the hostages on cuts to defense spending Carter had made. Ronald Reagan would restore our strength, he assured me. He would confront communism. Our allies would follow him and our enemies would respect him.

“When Reagan was elected and Iran released our hostages on his inauguration,  Papá made certain to point out to me that it confirmed everything he had been telling me. Reagan had barely been sworn into office, and our enemies were already capitulating to him. Reagan’s election and my grandfather’s allegiance to him were defining influences on me politically. I’ve been a Republican ever since. More than just help me develop a political identity, my grandfather instilled in me the importance of strong leadership and conviction. He urged me to study and learn but, more important, to do something useful with the knowledge I acquired.

“I wrote a paper in the fifth grade praising President Reagan for restoring the U.S. military after it had been demoralized and allowed to decay in the years before his presidency. I recently found it in a red suitcase that had belonged to my grandfather, and still contains some of his possessions.

“Papá was an unwavering supporter of President Reagan for the remainder of his life. He loved Reagan’s anti-Soviet and prodemocracy rhetoric, and he staunchly defended the more controversial Reagan policies. I particularly remember his outspoken support for Reagan’s development of the MX missile, and support for the Contras in Nicaragua and the government of El Salvador.

“My grandfather’s talks weren’t always about history or current events. Neither were they scrupulously objective. He wasn’t an admirer of our new church [The Mormon Church – sp]. He was never a religious man, although I know he believed in God, and openly acknowledged Him. But I never saw him attend any religious service except on the single occasion when he agreed to accompany us to Sunday services at the Mormon Church. After we can home and ate lunch, he went to smoke his cigar on the porch and I followed him. I asked him what he had thought of the services, and he told me he would never go back because he hadn’t seen a single African American in attendance. He wasn’t entirely accurate. There was a biracial family in the congregation at the time. But the argument didn’t impress my grandfather, and true to his word, he kept his distance from our church.

“He could be quite sharp in his criticism of people, even people close to him, of whose behavior he disapproved. He frequently found fault with some of my Miami cousins who he believed lacked direction and ambition. When the Culinary Workers Union staged a strike at my father’s place of employment, which my father, as a member of the union, was obliged to join, he told my father he hoped Reagan would fire them all as he did the striking air traffic controllers.

“For reasons he never shared with me, Papá didn’t like my friends, the Thiriots. When they called the house and asked for me, he would hang up the phone. When they came to the door, he would tell them I wasn’t at home. Some of my behavior frustrated him. He couldn’t abide my passion for football and resented my refusal to play baseball. He loved Tommy Lasorda and the LA Dodgers and was hurt when I wouldn’t agree to watch their games with him.

“He had odd quirks. He liked to call my sister by an invented nickname that scrambled the letters of her name, ‘Canirove’ [for Veronica – sp]. He constantly drummed his knuckles on a table or the arm of a chair in a specific and unvarying rhythmic pattern, a tick I now possess. He claimed to be part Chinese, which he was not. He boasted he was directly related to José Martí [a Cuban intellectual who championed independence from Spain – sp], whom he slightly resembled, but who is not, according to any known records, one of our ancestors. In his last years, he insisted he was born an American citizen around the turn of the century in Tampa, Florida, where Martí had lived in exile for a time. We kept an old Universal weight-lifting machine that I used to train for football in the rec room in our house that also served as his bedroom. He frequently complained that the contraption wasted electricity. When I explained that it didn’t use electricity, he ignored me.

“My father [ Mario Rubio – sp ] like to tease my grandfather about little things, his quirks and some of his opinions. Most of it was good-natured kidding, and it didn’t anger my grandfather. It might have annoyed him a little at times, but he never showed it. ‘Okay, Mario. Whatever you say, Mario,’ was usually the only response he would give. My mother, on the other hand, would get angry at my father. She thought his teasing was disrespectful, and would scold him for it.

“My father probably shared my grandfather’s political views, but he rarely discussed politics with my grandfather or with me when I was young, or with anyone as far as I know. He was consumed by the business of making a living and raising his children, and showed little interest in much else. He shared the family’s antipathy to communism and visceral dislike for talk about redistributing wealth. Like my grandfather, he believed such schemes led only to entrenching the power of the regime at the expense of the powerless, who lost jobs and opportunities because their employers had fled the [Cuban – sp] regime that had confiscated their property.

“My father and grandfather were different in many respects. They had different personalities, and neither was given to effusive expressions of affection. But they loved each other. My grandfather admired how committed my father was to our family, how hard he worked to give us a decent home, now carefully he protected us. To my father, the young refugee from an unhappy home, my grandfather and grandmother were his first experience with two loving parents since his mother had died.

“My grandfather was my mentor and my closest boyhood friend. I learned at his feet, relied on his counsel and craved his respect. I still do.” He constantly urged me to study hard and go to college. He wanted Veronica and me to live accomplished lives when we grew up. He wanted us to have not jobs, but distinguished careers that would give our lives purpose and the social status he had always wanted for himself. He would scold me for performing poorly in school, but he never let me believe I was incapable of being successful. He knew I could be, and he helped me prepare for it. His dreams for us were his legacy.

“He taught me many things, but none more important than the conviction that I must not waste the opportunities my parents had sacrificed to give us and our country made available to us. I’ve always believed, even when I was an inattentive and undisciplined student, that the time would arrive for me to become serious and do something important with my life, and I would be ready for it. I believe it because Papá taught me to believe it. And that, more than the wealth of knowledge he shared with me, more than the epics of history he evoked so powerfully for me, more than his opinions and his eccentricities, has made all the difference in the world to me.”

[ The long quote, above, was taken from Marco Rubio’s book An American Son: A Memoir (New York City: Sentinel, 2012), pp. 44-47. This copyrighted material is used here under the “Fair Use” clause which permits use for non-commercial purposes not likely to have an adverse financial effect on the copyright owner. ]

A - Bar -- The Paregien Journal -- brite blue, white and maroon -- created by Stan Paregien 2015--06--20

Muslim Logic -- posted on the internet in 2015

2015--09--16 '60s Folk Music Show at Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa

Aging -- generations -- Cartoon, THE FAMILY CIRCUS by Bil Keane - 2015-09-27

Aging -- music -- Denis the Menace cartoon - your frisbees play music

Aging -- perfect hearing aide for men - 2015

Aging -- women -- crazy old lady in my mirror

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Me and My Red Ryder BB Gun

1952--005--B--StanParegien-BBgun--FillmoreCA

Red Ryder BB gun by Daisy

Ah, yes, those were the days. I sure do wish I had my trusty Daisy BB gun back, again. It was a “Red Ryder” model, named in honor of the fictional cowboy character who first appeared in comic books, then on radio (with little Bobby Blake, later known as off-beat actor Robert Blake, playing “Little Beaver”), and finally on the Silver Screen (i.e., black and white movies). And BB gun had a genuine wood stock, not one of those hollow plastic things. I can hear right now the soft, rattling sound those brass-looking, small BBs as I tipped their round carton up and poured them in the storage tube running right beneath the barrel.  

1941 -- Red Ryder comic book with Little Beaver -- April, 1941

Red-Ryder -- artist Fred Harman

The Red Ryder character was the creation of two men:  Stephen Slesinger (a publisher) and Fred Harman (a talented artist and illustrator). The comic strip began late in 1938, reached a maximum syndication exposure of 750 newspapers, and then quietly died in 1964. It was also a radio program for several years.

In the some 35 Red Ryder movies, the hero was played by a variety of actors. In 1940, it was diminutive Don Barry who played in a 12-episode serial called “The Adventures of Red Ryder” (Tommy Cook played his sidekick, Little Beaver). After that series, Don Barry was nicknamed Don “Red” Barry and it stuck.

Red Ryder -- Don Barry as RR and Bobby Blake as LB

Then came the memorable films made by Bill “Wild Bill” Elliott and handsome Allen “Rocky” Lane, with Bobby Blake playing Little Beaver in all those films. The final four Red Ryder films were done in color and starred actor Jim Bannon with Don Kay Reynolds as his young friend Little Beaver. Two different TV pilots were filmed, one starring Jim Bannon and the other starring Allen Lane, but no one optioned them.

Now, . . . you do know what will happen . . . for sure . . . , if you give a kid a BB gun, don’t you? You certainly know if you have watched any of the annual showings of “A Christmas Story” (1983). He will shoot himself in the eye, that’s what will happen. That sorta wierd film has a sold cult-like core of fans who could never get enough of adult actor Darren McGaven (“the father”), Melinda Dillon (“the mother”) and  child actor Peter Billingsley (“Ralphie, the son with the BB gun”).  

1983  --  A Christmas Story

Well, it is time for an overdue confession. And it has to do with me pulling the trigger on my trusty Red Ryder BB gun and, . . . sure ’nuff, shooting my cousin in the eye (or at least the edge of it). Sad, but true.

That dastardly deed took place in about 1950. My parents (Harold and Evelyn Paregien) and my sister, Roberta, and I lived in an old farm house right on the south side of Highway 126 (about 3 miles west of Santa Paula, Calif.). My dad was a farm hand on the Todd Estate. He irrigated the orange trees, pruned them, fertilized them and lit “smudge pots” around them in the winter to try to keep them from freezing.

So it was that we lived next to 75 or more acres of Valencia orange trees and right next to a “barranca” (or very small creek; there was a highway bridge over it less than a hundred yards from our house). And that orchard and the barranca were wonderful places for kids to play. And to get into trouble.

“The kids,” in this case would be my sister and myself and assorted (or maybe a sordid) bunch of friends and cousins. The cousin who lived closest to us, and who even today is more like a brother to me, was Jerry Russell Paregien. Neither Jerry nor I ever heard our middle names used unless we were in some kind of trouble with an adult.

Now, . . . we kids had this little game we would play. Well, one of many games we played. This one involved throwing oranges at one another. The only rule was that you were supposed to be at least 15 feet away and you couldn’t hit the other person above the waist. This game obviously ignored the orchard owner’s number one rule: don’t pick my oranges. Let’s just say we thinned the crop so the remaining ones would get more nourishment. And, given the fact that all parties involved were running and jumping and squatting down to keep from getting hurt, sometimes there were . . . uh . . . accidents. Nothing too serious and the bruises usually where the sun does not usually shine.

Game #2 was, well . . . a bit more dangerous. So my sister and others of our young friends and cousins were not allowed to play “big guy stuff.” That usually meant that Jerry and I would square off in cold and calculated duels in the sun. Sometimes in the frequent coastal morning fog. It was just Jerry and his rusty, . . . er, I mean trusty BB gun and me and my superior weaponry, my cherished Red Ryder BB gun. 

The rule was similar to that of Game #1, except that here we understood we needed a greater distance between us. Still no shooting above the waist. It was a great bloodless sport, chasing and dodging one another in and among the orange trees. Sometimes we even yelled words which we had heard our fathers use on occasion. In those days we wore denim jeans (mine were of the Levi denomination). So, when by luck or by accidental skill, one of us actually shot the other guy there was only a sharp sting that lasted a couple of minutes. I don’t remember anything more permanent, like a bruise or such. 

Usually.

Usually did not apply to the day I pert near kilt my cousin Jerry. That’s how future generations would tell the awful story. This is my own acount of the incident (easy for me to say) and I’m sticking with it. 

I guess Jerry had spent the night with us there on the Todd Estate. My mother probably served us a bowl of The Breakfast of Champions, then out the door we ran with our legally purchased firearms. We usually carried at least two extra rolls of BBs. One cannot afford to be caught with one’s Roy Rogers underwear around one’s ankles in the middle of a firefight. 

Usually (that word, again), we would run deeply into the orange orchard for our diehard duels of destiny. Not this time. Instead, we went a couple of hundred yards south of our house, along the barranca. That was prime hunting territory for sparrows, bluejays and red-winged blackbirds. Sometimes for big game, like ground squirrels or one of Bugs Bunny’s little cousins. But today, . . . today we were after much bigger and much more dangerous game: each other.

Jerry lost the coin toss and made his way across the barranca to the other bank, near the edge of another orange orchard owned by some other farmer. There we stood, glaring at each other like tribal gladiators. I yelled out something like, “Let the games b-e-g-i-n !” And that got the battle into high gear. Seems like that’s kinda how John Wayne did it, too.

My merciless, mercinary cousin lifted his cannon, . . . er, I mean, . . . BB gun and fired a round in my direction. It zipped past me into a bush at my side. I responded with a quick cock of my gun’s lever and shot at him from the hip — just like Palladin or Steve McQueen would have done. Only they always hit something, even with the first shot. Neither Jerry nor I had that kind of professional skill, but we were working on it.

You see, dear reader, a sophisticated BB gun shooter will expect to fire a few rounds without hitting the target. One has to adjust for windage and for the fact that the arch of the BB would rapidly descend after 35 yards or so. Then there was the fact that, in this particular case, the target in question absolutely refused to stand still and play fair. Of course, that applied to both of us.

Right there in the middle of this blazing battle, I put my left index finger up in the air to test for windage. And, there being no windage, I lifted my BB gun a smidge higher than usual (yikes, that word, again). And I stood tall and brave as I carefully sighted in my adversary. Then, with my steady right index finger, I squeezed off a shot. I could see it easily traverse the barranca and head like a meteor toward cousin Jerry. As usual, I figured to hit him on or about his front pants pocket or on his skinny thigh. This, however, was not one of those “usual” days.

Instead, that sorry sucker of a BB followed an elongated trajectory that caused it to smack right into the corner of Jerry’s left eye. He dropped his own weapon and yelled like he had been shot. Well, duh. He had. And he didn’t stop there. He hadn’t lost his mind entirely, because he did pick up his own BB gun. And then he lit out for our house like a dog scalded with turpentine. And he was yelling and crying, then crying and yelling. Maybe even using some of those few choice adult words we knew.

Meanwhile, I had little time to savor my extraordinary victory. Fact is, I took off running like crazy, too. I was hoping I could catch him at the bridge, tackle him and shut him up. Maybe threaten him or, as a last resort, bribe him. Anything that would keep my tail from an agitated momma whoopin’. Alas, neighbors, that was not to be. That little varmit, . . . er, I mean . . . my dear cousin had put his hiney in overdrive. He crossed that bridge like he was competing at a track meet and easily beat me to the house.

By the time I emerged from our orange orchard and approached the house, I could hear Jerry’s wailing account of this little incident as something akin to attempt manslaughter. I knew that could not be true. Heck, he wasn’t even a man yet. Or me, either. 

When I had to stand before the Judge (my mother), I wept and wailed and pleaded my case. She was not impressed. So I threw myself on the mercy of the court. The Judge was fresh out of mercy on that day. First, she made me apologize to my own goofy, hairy-legged cousin for what was clearly an accident or–what else do lawyers say?–an act of God. Second, she gave me a lickin’ to remember and I did not just go on tickin’.

That was the very last time we ever played that doggone game.

To tell you the awful truth, though, I recently thought about challenging ol’ Jerry to a rematch. We would each have to go out and buy one of those gol-darned plastic BB guns. But I betcha I could raise blisters on his bony behind, this time.

Oh, hey, hold the cellphone. I forgot a couple of things.

Jerry Russell Paregien spent twenty-five years as an officer with the California Highway Patrol. That means each and every one of those 25 years he had to re-qualify on both his pistol and his rifle. And, how the heck could I forget this: he actually taught marksmanship at the headquarters of the CHP in Sacramento. In recent years, he even wrote two eBooks–available on Amazon.com– on certain pistols. And right now my eyesight–thanks to cataracts–is just not like it never was. 

Okay, that’s it. Negatory on that BB gun rematch idea.

I wonder though. Does anyone know whether Jerry is any good at checkers?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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