Category Archives: Woody Guthrie

Issue 377 – Time Changes Pert Near Everything

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Issue 377          Sept. 29, 2018           An Occasional Blog  

Time Changes Pert Near Everything

The great western crooner, Tommy Duncan, sang a song during the 1940s titled “Time Changes Everything.” It is a ballad about lost love, that he thought she would always love him. But over time, that changed. Then he thought he would never get over, but . . . shazam . . . time changed that. Finally, he wishes her well as he rides off in the sunset with his new love. Change, change, change.

Well, there’s a lot of truth in that ol’ Bob Wills western swing ballad.  But to state it a little more accurately and in the words of my unhousebroken cousin Bubba, “Time changes pert near everything.”

For example, you graduate from high school and your class fractures into minute pieces. Some kids go off to college or off to the military or off elsewhere for a job  . . . and a few just, well, go off. One day you realize not even Humpty Dumpty can’t put those pieces back together. 

Or you reach that mid-life crisis point where you must face up to the fact that you’re never going to be President of the United States. Heck, you’re not even going to be a leader in your Lions Club or your church. Last week you got a letter confirming your rich uncle left you his favorite poodle, but nothing else. And chances are high you aren’t going to see your own children reach any high level of success. And you’ve just about concluded you just ain’t very good lookin’ no mo. 

Shoot-fire, y’all, it gets worse. You become a senior citizen somewhere about 60 or 65. That’s when you notice the wheels starting to fall off your wagon, and you never were very mechanically inclined. You sorta think you’re a cut above most old folks, . . . until you count the number of prescription pills you take each day. And you tally up the aches and pains and dysfunctional parts of your anatomy and realize that if a part of you doesn’t hurt, it is probably not working.

Yep, time changes . . . pert near every aspect of our lives.

That’s what I’m talking about, friends, the changes that will not be ignored. They trip us on our way to the bathroom and slap us up side of the head to get our attention.

Okay, fellow travelers, I freely confess I kinda feel like I have the Elephant-of-Change sitting on my chest. Maybe if I scratch its back that Dumbo will go squat somewhere else, but he is probably like my nutty brother-in-law, Alex. He will be back much more often than I’d like.

CHANGE 1

Well, here is the first of several changes I am making: I will no longer give public performances of my storytelling (i.e., cowboy poetry, stories, songs and guitar playing). That tough decision comes after having had a heap of fun doing those things since about 1991 — about 27 years worth. In that regard, here is a poem I performed on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018 during my very last session at the National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration in Lubbock, Texas. I call this poem, my 488th, “On Hitting a Wall at 77.”

Poem 488 - On Hitting a Wall at 77 - by Stan Paregien - July 20, 2018 Page 1 of 2

Poem 488 - On Hitting a Wall at 77 - by Stan Paregien - July 20, 2018 Page 2 of 2

2018--09--06 01 Lubbock, TX - National Cowboy Symposium

 

2018--09--06 05 Lubbock, TX - National Cowboy Symposium2018--09--06 06 Lubbock, TX - National Cowboy Symposium

2018--09--07 05 Lubbock, TX - - National Cowboy Symp - LeRoy & Sandra Jones - by Stan Paregien

2018--09--07 09 Lubbock, TX - - NCS - Stan & Peggy Paregien with Sandra & LeRoy Jones

2018--09--07 13 Lubbock, TX - - NCS - Janice Deardorff performing - by Stan Paregien

2018--09--08 02--C Lubbock, TX - - NCS - Stan Paregien - by Peggy Paregien

2018--09--08 02--E Lubbock, TX - - NCS - Robert Beene - by Peggy Paregien

2018--09--08 03 Lubbock, TX - - NCS - Joel Nelson - by Stan Paregien

2018--09--08 05 Lubbock, TX - - NCS - Chris Isaacs - by Stan Paregien

2018--09--08 06 Lubbock, TX - - NCS - Pipp Gillette - by Stan Paregien

2018--09--09 03 Lubbock, TX - - Stan Paregien & Perry Williams - by Peggy Paregien

2018--09--09 08 Lubbock, TX - - National Cowboy Symposium

CHANGE 2

My second change is this: I’m am saying adios and farewell to all my social media.

Yes, Virginia, ’tis true. I shut down — i.e., deleted — my Facebook account just last week. Oh, yeah, I’ll miss seeing some photos of our kids and grandkids and great-grandkids that somehow never get seen to us in any other way. And I’ll miss that good clean joke which crossed my screen every once in a while, but life goes on. And so do I.

Oh, I guess I should mention those somewhere over 300 folks who friended me on Facebook. Some of those folks are really good friends, with a few of them dating back from six or more decades ago. Those I’ll miss a bunch, but . . . I still have a telephone (yes, a smarter-than-me phone and a land-line) and the U.S. Post Office still delivers to my mailbox (though 90 % of which I get is non-personal) . . . so I can be reached. Now I admit to being blissfully unaware of just how 40 or so of my “Friends” on Facebook had any real connection with me. Too much drama. Too much trivia. Just . . . way too much.

CHANGES THAT REALLY HURT

Part of the big changes I’m seeing in my life have to do with the passing of close friends and relatives . . . and the demise of so many people who, though not close friends, were folks I knew at one time or have corresponded with for a while or  people for whom I had a long-distance and long-standing admiration.

In this blog I just want to mention some of our friends we always saw at the National Cowboy Symposium and elsewhere, but who have crossed over that Big Divide. Here is just part of that list:

**********  DUSTY & PAT RICHARDS

 

 

The first time I met Ronald Lee (“Dusty”) Richards was in 1984 in Branson, Missouri. A few weeks earlier I had met Jory Sherman at a writers convention in Oklahoma City. It was Jory who told me all about the great folks in the Western Writers of America and about that year’s convention in a short time in Branson. At his urging, I traveled there alone and walked into the host hotel’s lobby. There an elderly man looked at my cowboy hat, walked over to me and introduced himself to me. It was none other than Thomas (“Tommy”) Thompson, the author of numerous Western articles and novels and movie and TV scripts. 

A short time later I met a fledgling writer from Springdale named Dusty Richards, and we hit it off right away. Between the WWA, other writer conventions and the National Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock,  Peggy and I saw Dusty and Pat many, many times over the years. He was a “late bloomer” who did not have his first book published until 1992, when he was 55 years old. But, golly Bill, he caught on fire there. He wrote some 150 western novels, many under various publishing “house names.” One of those novels, The Mustanger & the Lady, was made into a movie with the title, “Painted Woman.”

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Paul Patterson was the high school literature teacher who became a mentor out in West Texas to none other than the late, great Western novelist Elmer Kelton. 

2002-051-- Lubbock, TX -- Pat and Dusty Richards - National Cowboy Symposium

Those times are now behind us, wonderful memories we will cherish. Dusty and Pat Richards were in a horrific car accident in December of 2017. They were hospitalized in critical condition. Pat died from her injuries on Jan. 11, 2018 and Dusty left this life one week later on Jan. 18, 2018. He was 80 years old.

Dusty and Pat loved their adopted home state of Arkansas, as well as Arizona and the great Southwest. A writer for the family posted this on Dusty’s Facebook page:

“What can we say about Dusty? The real question is what can’t we say about him? To say that he was larger than life is the grandest of understatements. He was an irresistible force and an unmovable object all rolled into one, a personality wider than the western skies he wrote about. He was an eternal optimist, a man who woke up each and every day renewed and ready for the next job, the next challenge, the next good fight. He was a father, a patriarch, a mentor of the first order.

“He toured the  country teaching and encouraging new and experienced writers alike, challenging them to follow his lead, tell the next inspiring story, pen the next Great American Novel. He was a fighter, a lover, a joker, an entrepreneur, a canny businessman, a television and radio personality, a famous rodeo announcer, a cowboy, and, perhaps above all else, a master storyteller. Dusty was everything that fit under his trademark ten-gallon hat and so much more, and we could keep writing for a year and not do him justice.”

**********  HENRY TORRES

Torres, Henry - died at age 80 in a hospital in Rio Rancho, NM

**  Henry Torres, a rancher and historian and cowboy poet, died on April 6, 2018 at the age of 80. He was born to Hispanic parents on Nov. 7, 1937. He grew up in that farming and ranching family, with most of his time spent on ranches in New Mexico — from Deming to Las Cruces and up to Silver City.  He had two beloved sisters, Beatrice and Elsie, where were some older than he. Henry joined the U.S. Navy right after graduating from high school, but came back in 1960 to again work for and with his father. 

This cowpoke went above his learnin’ and married Carolyn Shores in 1971. Henry spent much of his adult career ranching on the side and working as a Brand Inspector for the New Mexico Livestock Board. He retired as the Supervisor in Silver City in 1996. A few years before his retirement, he got interested in writing and publically performing cowboy poetry. He was of the founders and supporters of the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Museum in Las Cruces, NM. And he was the primary force behind the creation of their annual “Cowboy Days” celebration.

In 2002, Henry Torres felt very blessed when he received an “American Cowboy Culture” award at the National Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock, Texas. In 2016, he was recognized in a ceremony at the Las Cruces New Mexico Farm & Ranch Museum for his many years of service to the industry and to the museum. In 2011, Carolyn Torres was seriously sick and wanted to move to Nevada to spend her last days close to their children and grandchildren, and they left their beloved New Mexico. She died in 2014, so Henry moved back to Silver City. He lived and died as a man of his word, a cowboy to the bone.

**********  GUY W. LOGSDON

Peggy and I first met Guy Logsdon in about 1990 at the National Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock, Texas. He had a both at the convention center where he sold new and used and collectable books. When he went back to Tulsa and started “The Oklahoma Cowboy Poetry Gathering” at the National Western Museum & Heritage Center in Oklahoma City. He was kind enough to invite me to perform there several times. Now he is gone.

 Guy William Logsdon was born on May 31, 1934 in Ada, Okla. He grew up there, played bass fiddle and then the guitar, in the Logsdon family band. Then added singing and storytelling to his skills. He graduated from Ada High School and then attended and graduated from East Central State University there is Ada. While getting educated, he also got married to Phyllis Landers from up the road in Okemah (hometown of the legendary singer and songwriter Woody Guthrie).

1991-014 GuyLogsdon-StanP-closeup

 Later, Guy received M.S. degree in Library Science and his Doctorate of Education from the University of Oklahoma. His first job was as Director of Libraries at prestigious University of Tulsa. Over time he became a recognized expert in three very different fields: (1) the life and music of Woody Guthrie; (2) Western swing music and the lives of Bob & Johnnie Lee Wills; and (3) old-time authentic cowboy music. 

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Dr. Logsdon wrote the liner notes for both Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger compilation CDs which were produced by Smithsonian Folkways. His books include “The University of Tulsa: A History, 1882-1972;” “The Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing and Other Songs Cowboys Sing;” “Ada, Oklahoma, Queen City of the Chickasaw Nation: A Pictorial History;” “Saddle Serenaders;” “The Flip of the Coin; the Story of Tommy Allsup;” and  “Woody’s Road; Woody Guthrie’s Letters Home, Drawings, Photos, and Other Unburied Treasures” co-authored with Mary Jo Guthrie Edgmon (Woody’s youngest sister). Guy Logsdon himself was the subject of Stan Paregien’s eBook, “Guy W. Logsdon: Award-winning Folklorist,” and a main source of first-hand information for Stan’s book, “Woody Guthrie: The Man, His Music & His Myth.”

 Guy Logsdon died Feb. 5, 2018 after a short illness. He and Phyllis had been married for 64 years. One of their daughters, Cindy Logsdon Black, is married to and performs with noted cowboy poet and storyteller Baxter Black.

**********  GAIL T. BURTON

Burton, Gail Travis - 1929 to 2017 - cowboy poet in Benton, ARPeggy and I first met Gail T. Burton (Benton, AR) at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City in about 1991. That was when Dr. Guy W. Logsdon of Tulsa organized the very first “Oklahoma Cowboy Poetry Gathering.” He and I each performed there, and we would perform together at many other events over the years. Burton began writing and performing his own cowboy poetry and before he stopped he had created more than 500 poems.  He also wrote a book titled, “Cow Pies and Candle Lights” (1999).

Gail Travis Burton died on Feb. 22, 2017 at his home in Benton, Arkansas at the age of 88. He had been born Jan. 4, 1929 in Temple, OK. Ten months after his birth the United States and much of the world would be floundering the economic disaster we now call “The Great Depression.” Well, Gail grew up and served Uncle Sam as a soldier in the Army and was stationed in Korean from 1946 to 1948. Later, he took specialized training at Oklahoma State University and spent the rest of his life as a Fire Protection Specialist in California and in Arkansas.

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Peggy Paregien took this photo at the 1st Annual Oklahoma Poetry Gathering at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City. LEFT TO RIGHT: Okay, here’s where my memory has slipped a cinch. I cannot remember the fellah at the left, seems maybe he was a professor at Oklahoma Panhandle State University way out at Goodwell, Okla. Anybody know his name? That bare-faced gent 2nd from left is , . . . uh . . . give me a second . . . oh, yeah. Me. Stan Paregien. And the lady is Francine Robison, the pride of Tecumseh, OK. And on the far right is Gail T. Burton.

Burton was a deacon at First Baptist Church of Benton. He was also a Master Mason and a member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. In addition, he was a member of the Missouri Cowboy Poet’s Association, and a charter member of the Academy of Western Artists. He was survived by his wife of 65 years, Barbara Burton and their five  children, 15 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

How Far Is It to Bethlehem?

by Gail T. Burton of Benton, AR

“How far is it to Bethlehem,”
a young cowboy asked his pard’
while riding ‘cross the open range
as the snow was falling hard.
It was coming on to Christmas,
and the two were out alone,
pushing cows to lower pasture
where the blizzard hadn’t blown.

“I know it’s past Chicago,
crosst’ the ocean anyhow;
I still don’t know just where it’s at,
but a far piece I’d allow.”
His partner rode a while in thought,
like he hadn’t even heard.
“It’s a right far piece from Heaven,
you can take me at my word.”

That’s all he said for ‘most an hour,
while they hazed the cattle slow,
but his thoughts were on the Christ child
as they trudged on through the snow.
On the thought of that first Christmas,
and the gift God sent to earth,
of the truth of Jesus’ coming,
and the blessing of His birth.

While riding on he understood
Where these thoughts of Christmas lead,
And bringing words up from his heart
The old cowboy softly said:
“I’ve no clue to mark the distance,
of the mile, ….. I’m at a loss.
How far is it to Bethlehem?
It’s just half way to the cross.”

© 2004, Gail T. Burton

 

I reckon that’s more’n enough rambling for one session. Thank you, sincerely, for stopping by. Adios for now. 

 

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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 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 267 — What We Did in 2012

Issue 267    —    The Paregien Journal    —  Stan Paregien, Sr., Editor

What We Did in 2012

by Stan Paregien Sr.

The full body of Issue 220 will be found at: http://www.issuu.com/cowboystan/docs

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There you will be able to read Issue 220 and previous ones right there online for free.

In addition, if you register for free you will be able to download any and all postings from me for free. Otherwise, you do not have to register at all.

Thanks,
Stan Paregien Sr

Issue 261 — Woody Guthrie: His Life, Music and Myth

Issue 261    —    The Paregien Journal    —    August 8, 2012

Woody Guthrie: His Life, Music and Myth

by Stan Paregien, Sr.

(Click on graphics to enlarge each one)

My 7th Kindle E-book, titled Woody Guthrie: His Life, Music & Myth,  is now online and available for purchase at www.amazon.com .

This one represents more than 1 1/2 years of research on this famous/infamous Oklahoma-born folk singer, songwriter, poet, artist and novelist. It has more than 300 pages of text and some 70 photos and illustrations.

 I have attached a couple of flyers with additional information. Please feel free to pass them on to anyone who loves music . . . or has any interest in the Dust Bowl days . . . or is interested in World War II . . . or may be interested in Guthrie’s losing battle over many years with a dibilitating mental and physical disease we call Huntington’s Disease . . . or would like to read about how music was used to protest poverty and labor conditions . . . or how and why so many entertainers got caught up in the “Red Scare” and blacklisting during the 1940s and 1950s. This e-book touches on those topics and much more.

 Oh, part of that “and much more” includes one poem and five songs that I wrote this year which were directly inspired by Woody Guthrie’s life and music. And it includes an extensive bibliography of reference materials.

 Best wishes,

Stan Paregien Sr