Tag Archives: Stan Paregien

Issue 378 – Extravagant Love

Logo -- The Paregien Journal -- 2018--01--18 -- 800 X 195 pix X 400 dpi

Issue 378     Oct. 9 , 2018    An Occasional Blog     Bradenton, FL

Extravagant Love

Do you ever get excited about getting to share something wonderful you’ve discovered? Sure you do. If we have found a restaurant where the food is good almost beyond description . . . and those who wait on us are fast, friendly and efficient . . . and the price is unquestionably reasonable, . . . well, we can hardly sit still until we can share that fantastic news with any and everybody we meet. Right. You betcha.

That’s what this section of this particular blog is all about. Here’s a little info about some really challenging and inspiring and motivational books I have read over the last year or so. I have posted their respective covers and a few introductory pages so you can get a taste of this absolutely delicious mental food for thought. Yep, friends, this is really, really good stuff and I present it for you consideration.

WARNING AND DISCLAIMER:  Buying and reading these books may be hazardous to your sacred cows and prejudices.

At least that has been my personal experience, and I’m still thinking about how . . . as these authors share . . . I can be more open and and receptive to ideas and people which force me to think outside my comfortable box (hey, it’s comfortable here in my box with my big-screen TV, newspaper, cup of coffee and a cookie or two). They each challenge us to be more impromptu and proactive in our lives, to follow the Spirit into new relationships with other Believers and non-Believers alike, and to not always have to have a master plan executed before taking a step into the unknown.

Happy reading, my friends.

Oh, one other thing. On the pages which follow you’ll occasionally see some marks. Those are mine. I confess to being a natural-born scribbler of stuff on the margins of books I read. Just thought I’d let you know so you won’t be too distracted by them.

Goff, Bob - LOVE DOES -- 2012 -- A1 front cover

Bob Goff is one of God’s living, breathing and doing disciples. He is sort of an Energizer Bunny on steroids. When you read about his gift for living spontaneously, you cannot help thinking maybe you’re tied up in a big knot by your lifestyle, your church traditions, and your prejudices and stereotypes about what how restrictive the Christian life is. 

Well, ol’ Bob might just say to you, “Okay, enough moaning the blues and living in a spiritual straight-jacket. C’mon, let’s look around and do love on somebody. And let’s do it now, not when it is more convenient. Now, not after you’ve Googled a research paper on the subject. Now, not after your elders have met and voted on it. Now, . . . as in right this instant.”

Goff, Bob - LOVE DOES -- 2012 -- A2 first-half of back cover

Yes, that is a copywriter’s best PR effort to capture in an easy-to-swallow capsule the essence of Bob Goff the man and Bob Goff the message. The PR guy got it right, but he was trying to squeeze a Goliath-sized, hair-legged Geni into a way-too-small bottle. Even after you read the entire book, the first word from your lips will probably be the same as it was from mine: “Wow!”

Goff, Bob - LOVE DOES -- 2012 -- A3 second-half of back cover

Goff, Bob - LOVE DOES -- 2012 -- A4 foreword, p. vii

Goff, Bob - LOVE DOES -- 2012 -- A5 foreword by Donald Miller, p viii

Goff, Bob - LOVE DOES -- 2012 -- A5 foreword by Donald Miller, p ix

And here is one of the first lawyers you’ve ever met . . . that you’ll like . . . and keep on liking. Ultimately, you’re really glad this guy is on our side (i.e., the Lord’s side) and using his enthusiasm to spread sunshine. He is “the unsinkable Molly Brown” in a tee shirt, worn jeans and a pair of deck shoes. Bob is a first-class “pusher,” a pusher of extravagant love.

Goff, Bob - LOVE DOES -- 2012 A6 , p. xi

Goff, Bob - LOVE DOES -- 2012 A7 ,Introduction - p. xiii

Goff, Bob - LOVE DOES -- 2012 A7 , Introduction - p. -xii

Goff, Bob - LOVE DOES -- 2012 A8 , p. xiv - 1

Okay, folks, my advice is for you to call your closest Christian bookstore and see whether they have this book by Bob Goff in stock and, if they do, hop in your Little Red Wagon and boogie on down to get your own copy. Or order it online. But don’t wait. Do it now. And then get a few extra copies to give as birthday or  Christmas gifts. Yep, neighbors, this book really is that good. It is a giant sparkplug between the covers of a book.

Rutz, James H - THE OPEN CHURCH - A1 front cover

Now, friends, THE OPEN CHURCH is a book that will challenge your traditions and what you think you know about the church of Jesus Christ. It didn’t start off as complicated and compartmentalized and formalized as it is today. Somebody said, “status quo” is Latin for “we are stuck in a rut and cannot get out.” But the good news this book has is “Hey, we don’t have to keep doing things the same way.”

My experience has been that everyone I have met has the same two areas of expertise:  religion and politics. I swear on a stack of National Geographics that every person I know must have earned advanced degrees in both Politics and in  Theology degree. Or at least they act like they do.

Hey, I can say that because I include myself in that bunch of opinionated yahoos who can talk long, hard and loud on any topic at all related to religion or politics. I don’t know why that is. It just is.

However, now is the time to suspend our collective world-class intellect and listen to this challenging lesson from the late James H. Rutz. He tells us how we got in this sophisticated mess that Christianity is in right now. Understanding that evolutionary digression from First Century Christianity can help us muster enough courage to toss overboard a lot of the unnecessary baggage we have accumulated. So read on, friends.

Rutz, James H - THE OPEN CHURCH - A2 back cover

Rutz, James H - THE OPEN CHURCH - p 01

 

Rutz, James H - THE OPEN CHURCH - p 02

Rutz, James H - THE OPEN CHURCH - p 03

Rutz, James H - THE OPEN CHURCH - p 04

Rutz, James H - THE OPEN CHURCH - p 05

Rutz, James H - THE OPEN CHURCH - p 08

Rutz, James H - THE OPEN CHURCH - p 09

Rutz, James H - THE OPEN CHURCH - p 10

Rutz, James H - THE OPEN CHURCH - p 11

Rutz, James H - THE OPEN CHURCH - p 178

Rutz, James H - THE OPEN CHURCH - p 179

Whew, Billy Bob, that gives you a lot to digest, doesn’t it? There may be some real discomfort in what Rutz said, enough for a king-sized episode of heartburn. That may be just what many of us needed to jar us out of our comfort zone. I hope so.

And there’s more . . . . 

McKnight, Scot - A FELLOWSHIP OF DIFFERENTS - A1 Front cover of the book

MCKNIG~2

McKnight, Scot - A FELLOWSHIP OF DIFFERENTS - p 09

McKnight, Scot - A FELLOWSHIP OF DIFFERENTS - p 10

McKnight, Scot - A FELLOWSHIP OF DIFFERENTS - p 11

McKnight, Scot - A FELLOWSHIP OF DIFFERENTS - p 12

McKnight, Scot - A FELLOWSHIP OF DIFFERENTS - p 13

McKnight, Scot - A FELLOWSHIP OF DIFFERENTS - p 14

McKnight, Scot - A FELLOWSHIP OF DIFFERENTS - p 15

Tossed salad

The church is like a tossed salad. Hmmm. I wish I had thought of that. It is so simple to understand and it is right on target, theologically. Any group (i.e., congregation) of Christians is bound to be different from others elsewhere, just as any one disciple in a given church is different in many ways from most other members. 

Yet, despite . . . or maybe because of . . . those differences our loving God desires and expects the members of his extended family to love each other, cooperate with each other, and get along with each other as well as any family can do. It ain’t easy, Virginia, but it is what we are to be and to do.

 

Some Personal Notes

 

** Barbara McCormick 

Barbara Marie Taylor McCormick, 78, lately of Kerrville, Texas, passed away on Sept. 6, 2018, in her home. She was surrounded by her loving husband and children. Barbara was born in Uvalde, Texas, to Robert and Marie Taylor on February 6, 1940. She married Claude Ellis McCormick (affectionately referred to as “Junior”) on Dec. 18, 1958.

McCormick, Barbara Marie Taylor - died 9-6-2018

Barbara spent most of her childhood in Del Rio, where she was the mascot for the high school for four years. Her family moved to Snyder in 1954 for her father’s job at J.C. Penny, and she graduated from Snyder High in 1958. She left Snyder for Abilene Christian College that summer to start classes.

While in Abilene, she met the love of her life, and they were married before year’s end. They left Abilene that winter to return to Snyder where Junior worked at the family business. While in Snyder, Barbara and Junior welcomed three children – Jeanne Marie, Cindy Leigh, and Charlie Taylor. She was a stay-at-home mother who committed herself to raising three Godly children and giving them her full support and care. She also opened her home to two exchange students that became like family to the McCormicks – Inge from Austria and Patricia from Ecuador.

Barbara loved Snyder (Texas) and was very involved throughout the community. She was a regular volunteer and project leader at East Side Church of Christ, where she served faithfully in both women’s Bible study and youth group Bible classes. She relished the opportunity to work with church members on a church cookbook, which her granddaughters use to this day. Barbara was also an instrumental part of the India Mission Fund that East Side still supports and went several times to India to visit with Brother and Sister Medidi to oversee and participate in the work there.

She was Snyder’s Republican delegate traveling to state and national conventions. Barbara served several terms on the Texas Historical Foundation board and was active with Women for Abilene Christian University.

Barbara was probably best known for her enthusiasm for photography. Her vastly impressive skills were called on frequently throughout her life, as she documented a wide array of events. Her images were regularly published in the local paper. But more than that, her generosity and kindness were conveyed through her pictures. For every image she took, she made several copies and mailed them to each person pictured or anyone who would appreciate having the image, along with a beautiful card and heart-felt letter. Her pictures have been mailed across nations and over decades and remain treasured keepsakes for those who received them.

Barbara was a world-traveler and shared her love of exploring new places with friends and family alike. No one who loved Barbara missed Texas! in Palo Duro Canyon, and everyone had fun walking San Antonio’s River Walk with her. But her travels extended far beyond the lone-star state and included four of the seven continents. Barbara never met a stranger and could somehow make a connection between everyone she encountered and her hometown of Snyder.

Her love of life was undeniable and unapologetic. She had room in her heart for everyone, and her memory and love will long live on.  Barbara is preceded in death by her parents, Robert and Marie Taylor. Barbara will be lovingly remembered by her husband of 59+ years, Junior McCormick; her children, Jeanne Ketchersid (Tim), Cindy Schroeder, and Charlie McCormick (Cayce); her grandchildren, Timothy Ketchersid, Heather Davila (Jason), Courtney Ketchersid, Madison Schroeder, Garrett Schroeder, Hannah Schroeder, Emma McCormick, and Adelaide McCormick; and her great-grandchildren, Thaddeus, Judah and Delia Marie Davila. Memorial services were held Sept. 15, 2018, at East Side Church of Christ in Snyder, Texas.

NOTE:  Peggy and I went to church with Junior and Barbara for nearly six years during our stay in Snyder, Texas. They were a friendly and hospitable couple who, like Jesus himself, went about doing good. They were part of a prominent and wealthy family in Snyder, but never let that be a handicap to them.

**  Sheriff Keith Collier

Keith Thomas Collier, 85, of Snyder, died Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018 at his residence in Snyder. Funeral services were held Aug. 10th at 37th Street Church of Christ with Brady Collier and Will Collier officiating. 

Keith Thomas Collier was born on Sept. 30, 1932 in Hawley, Texas to Thomas Mirt and Heddy “Lollar” Collier. He married Janice Hughes on March 2, 1951 in Fluvanna. Mr. Collier was in law enforcement for 36 years; 32 of those years he served as sheriff. He was president of the sheriff’s association, was the recipient of the Tom Tellepson Award and the Bill Decker Award, director of the Texas Association of Counties and president of West Central Texas Law Enforcement.

Locally, he was a Gold Coater for the Snyder Chamber of Commerce, director of the Noah Project, member of the Snyder Lions Club and served on the Scurry County Hospital District board of directors. He was also a member of 37th Street Church of Christ and belonged to several RV groups.

He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother, Kenneth Collier, one son, Joe Collier, one grandson, Tucker Collier, and one great-granddaughter, Paityn Collier.  Survivors include his wife, Janice Collier of Snyder; two daughters, Keitha Brown and her husband, James, and Tracy Lewis and her husband, Randy, all of Snyder; two sons, Tim Collier and his wife, Connie, and Dwain Collier and his wife, Sheila, all of Snyder.

NOTE:  I spent a lot of time in the Scurry County Jail, where Keith held forth as the Sheriff of the County. No, I wasn’t incarcerated. I was usually there on official business in my capacity as Director of the Scurry County Mental Health Center, interviewing and assisting prisoners as needed. Keith and I were both members of the large Lions Club in Snyder (some 75 in actual attendance at each weekly luncheon), and for which I served as Vice President one year and President the next year. He was highly respected.

** Dr. Anthony (“Tony”) Ash 

Ash, Tony - died at age 86 in 2018NOTE: I first met Dr Tony Ash in about 1969 when he spoke at a “Restoration Discussions” event when Roy Young and I hosted in Oklahoma City. Then, in about 1977 when I preached for the independent Christian Church in Stroud, Okla., he stayed in our home while he was in town to give a marriage and family seminar at our church. A very friendly guy, and a Biblical scholar. 

Anthony Lee (“Tony”) Ash was born Oct. 29, 1931 in Lincoln, Neb. He earned an A.A. degree from Florida Christian College (Temple Terrace, FL) in 1954. He married Barbara Bailey in 1955. He earned his M.A. in Old Testament from Abilene Christian University in Abilene, TX in 1959. In 1966 he earned his Ph.D. in Church History from the University of Southern California. He was a Bible professor at ACU for over 40 years, during which he preached (usually part-time) for five different congregations in Abilene. He was a recognized authority on the life of Christian author C.S. Lewis. He and Barbara had been married 62 years when he died on Dec. 6, 2017. 

** Gary Freeman

Gary Freeman died in Springfield, Oregon on July 30, 2017 at the age of 84. He was born in Gallatin, Tenn., on Aug. 21, 1932. He earned his B.A. in Bible (with a major in Greek) and his M.A. in English from the University of Connecticut. He spent many years as a minister for churches in Connecticut, Ohio and California. The last job of his career was as an English professor, a writer and film critic at Orange Coast College. That was from 1970 until he retired in 1990.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Gary, but he was one of my favorite writers back in the 1960’s and later. For years he wrote a bi-weekly column in our denomination’s news magazine, one which was way outside the box of conservatism. His comedic timing was right on. For example, in one column he mentioned how he had been applying for openings for jobs preaching and having a tough time getting responses. He said one day he hit on an idea which got him a lot of responses. He said he replaced his name on the applications with the name of Dr. Batsell Barrett Baxter. Now to laugh at that insider joke, you have to know Dr. Baxter (a former professor of mine, by the way) at that time was our church’s answer to Billy Graham. Baxter was head of the Bible Department at Lipscomb University in Nashville; he preached for one of the largest congregation in Nashville; and he was the radio and TV speaker for a nationally syndicated radio and TV show called “The Herald of Truth.” That joke was funny to me, then, and it still is today.

However, Gary may have reached his biggest audiences with the two books he wrote: Are You Going to Church More but Enjoying it Less? and a best-seller titled, A Funny Thing Happened to Me On the Way to Heaven. That last book was about all the funny things that happened in the 1950s and 1960s at conservative Christian Colleges across the country. Heck, I just found and bought a really used copy and plan to give it another read after several decades. He was a funny guy, and a brave one, too.

He started the Preface to his book the same way he ended the book:  with witty sarcasm: “There’s not a word of truth in the following story. I don’t just mean that the story is fiction, which is obvious enough. I mean that it isn’t based on anything. The religious attitudes portrayed herein are preposterous. They’re completely unlike any I’ve ever seen. There are no churches like this one, no people like Dr. Thorndike and Allbright and Charles Francis Duncan, no schools like Sinai Christian College. The very idea that innocent people can get crushed in ecclesiastical machinery, or that there is any tension between idealism and institutionalism, is too fantastic to require refutation. Readers who think they see dim parallels somewhere should be locked up.”

As I recall, there were quite a few “Defenders of the Faith” who thought Freeman should be locked up. Or worse. And they were not being witty.

** Billie (Wesley) Silvey

Billie Silvey was a Christian writer, editor and activist who died just before her 75th birthday on Sept. 20, 2017. Born in Sacramento, Calif. on Sept. 21, 1942, she graduated from high school at . . . sit down for this, . . . Happy, Texas. If I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’. She married Frank Silvey and graduated in 1967 from Pepperdine University with her B.A. in English and journalism. Besides her impressive writing and editing jobs, she was one of the first women in our church to hold the title “Minister.” She was Outreach Minister for the Culver Palms Church of Christ in the Los Angeles area where she specialized in urban evangelism. Never got to meet this talented and dedicated disciple of Christ, but I hope to one day “over yonder” (as my maternal grandparents often said). In many ways she walked . . . and spoke out in places and ways men never ventured.

** Edward William Fudge

Fudge, Edward - photo - 2013 - 2Ed Fudge was “the son of a preacher man,” as an old classic Southern rock says. He was born July 13, 1944 in Lester, Alabama. He graduated from Florida College, then earned both a B.A. and his M.A. degrees in Greek from Abilene Christian University. In 1988 he earned a law degree from the University of Houston. He lived in Houston and practiced law there until he died at age 73 on Nov. 25, 2017.

I cannot testify as to his eloquence as a speaker, other than to say he was in demand. He did impress me as a wonderful writer who could write with grace, empathy for the human condition, and remarkable insights on many subjects.

Fudge, Edward -- The Fire That Consumes -3rd editionHe stirred up the fires in hell . . . and in many a preacher’s study . . . by his hugely popular book on the topic of . . . yep, . . . hell. What it is, what it ain’t, and so forth. He caught more than he share of . . . , well, flack for challenging the traditional views of hade. In 2012 a movie company produced a first-class documentary about how he struggled to understand what the Bible says about hell and how many people were as mad as . . . , uh, the dickens at him for his conclusions. Edward, I’ve sure got some big questions for you when I get to join you . . . a long way from hell.

 

** George W. Bailey

1969-021 Preachers with Mayfair ties - OKC--011969-023 note from George W Bailey - preacherGeorge W. Bailey born in Ola, Texas on April 3, 1922. He graduated from high school in Kaufman, Texas. He attended Freed-Hardeman University (Tenn.), Southwestern Oklahoma State University, the University of New Mexico and Abilene (TX) Christian University. Though he never received a degree, George was an intelligent man who was largely self-educated. 

Bailey was a gifted preacher who spiked his sermons with numerous short witticisms or bits of wisdom. From 1954 to 1972, he was the pulpit minister for the University Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas, the home congregation for scores of highly educated professors at Abilene Christian University and hundreds of college students. He was so loved that the “George W. Bailey Endowed Bible Scholarship” was set up at ACU to honor him. 

George Bailey also preached in more than a hundred nations on six continents. He was the featured speaker for many years on both the “Herald of Truth” nationally syndicated TV and radio programs. He and his late wife had been married for 68 years. He died in Katy, Texas on Nov. 11, 2017 at the age of 95. 

Unity in Christ

Until next time, be a blessing to others and give Jesus the credit.

— Stan

 

AA Fair Use Disclaimer - 2018 - 02 for entire newsletter or blog

 

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Issue 352 – A Visit to Dade City, Florida

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Issue 352    –    March 17, 2017

A Visit to Dade City, Florida:

February 15-16, 2017

2017--02--15 30A Dade City, FL -logo - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 30B Dade City, FL - info - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 30C Dade City, FL - info - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 30D Dade City, FL - info - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 30E Pasco County, FL - logo - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 33A ice creme cone - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

During our recent stay in Ocala, Florida . . . we stayed at the infamous “Bates Motel.” Alfred Hitchcock himself left the light on for us. Well, not literally, of course. But it turned out to be a whole lot less safe and much more shabby than we would have predicted from the office, lobby and outside. We put a chair against the inside of our door and another up against the sliding glass door to the outside. And I had my trusty 9 mm pistola on the end table where I could reach it. Yeah, it really was that creepy. 

So when we breezed into Dade City we decided to spent a little more (okay, a lot more) for a room at the Hampton Inn. It was very nice. Free cookies. Free USA today. Nice breakfast. In other words, most of the comforts of home. It is on the south side of town. Very peaceful night of rest.

2017--02--16 01 hog sale - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 02 our 2016 Kia - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 03 history marker - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 04 history marker - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 05 history marker - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

We saw a sign or an ad pointing out that Dade City has about 13 antique stores in town. So we did our doggonedest to visit each and every one of ’em. Didn’t quite get ‘er done, so we may have to mosey over there again some time.

2017--02--16 06 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 07 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 08 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 09 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 10 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 11 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by Peg Paregien

2017--02--16 11 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 12 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 13A Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 13B Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 14A Mary Leeznar - Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 14B Mary Leeznar - Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

If you go there, tell Mary that Stan and Peggy sent ya. Heck, no, she won’t remember us from Adam and Eve, of course. But she will make you feel right at home. Yep, ya durned tootin’.

2017--02--16 15 history marker - Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

Dade City seemed like a real pleasant country town, only with lots of traffic on the main highways. There are quite a number of historic homes and retail businesses there. We could easily have spent another night there, but we needed to get home to milk our herd of cows (any excuse will do when you’re ready to get back into your bed). 

2017--02--16 16 downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 17 downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien2017--02--16 18 downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 19 downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 20 downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 21 downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

I just couldn’t get up enough nerve to order a fair-to-middlin’ sized slice of Kumquat pie. It just sounds odd, maybe even unAmerican. But apparently folks around Dade City are proud of it.

2017--02--16 22 P Paregien - downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

Here is my Sweet Thang, looking her always good lookin’ self. I took these photos just because I was struck by the texture of the nearby walls. I guess that is the goofy . . . er, I mean, artistist . . . photographer in my DNA. And I wondered which might make a more interesting background for a photo. I guess I’m still wondering, but I kinda lean toward the one above. What do you think?

2017--02--16 23A P Paregien - downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 23B Stan Paregien - downtown - Dade City, FL - by P Paregien

2017--02--16 24 west side - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

Surprisingly, it is just a hop, skip and a jump from Dade City to San Antonio, Texas. You know, the town that ol’ Bob Wills sang about.

Well, . . . okay, you got me.

No, Brother Bob never fiddled a lick about t-h-i-s San Antonio. Because this quiet, tiny town is San Antonio, Florida. I didn’t realize there was such a place until earlier on this trip when we were looking at the map for alternate routes (i.e., back roads and cow trails) to get home from Dade City. This was a nice diversion. 

 

2017--02--16 30 - San Antonio, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 31 - San Antonio, FL - by S Paregien

They have a Mexican restuarant just off the beautiful town square and park, and the name has something to do with Pancho Villa. I don’t think ol’ Pancho ever ate tacos there, though.There was quite a line at the door. So, since I don’t like long lines, we drove on down to Zephrhills and ate lunch at “Rick’s” on the west side of town. Very nice “mom and pop” kind of place that closes at 2 pm, then I think reopens in the evening.

We just drove through Zephrhills (oh, sure, we did stop at a couple of thrift stores on the west side of town) on the fly, but we passed one Mobile Home Park right after the other. Heck, I’ve got nothing against MHP’s per se (since we live in one), but these seemed kinda packed tight and a bit older. And lots of ’em. To each his own, I reckon.

Well, neighbors, that’s about all I can tell you about Dade City and San Antonio. I think you’d enjoy an overnight visit to the area, though. 

Adios for now.

— Stan

 

 

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Issue 351 – Gypsy Vanner Horses in Ocala, FL

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The Paregien Journal   –   Issue 351   –   March 17, 2017

 

Gypsy Vanner Horses

by Stan Paregien Sr.

2017--02--15 01 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD HORSE FARM, info

2017--02--15 02 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD, info

2017--02--15 03 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD, info

2017--02--15 04 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD, info

2017--02--15 05 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD, info

2017--02--15 06 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD, info

2017--02--15 07 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD FARM - by Peg Paregien

2017--02--15 08A1 - horse pulling old-time Caravan

2017--02--15 08A2 - horse pulling old-time Caravan

2017--02--15 08B - horse pulling Caravan

2017--02--15 08C - horse pulling 'bow-top' Caravan

2017--02--15 09 A GVH being ridden with a western saddle

2017--02--15 10 'Droghedas Wildfire' a horse bred by GYPSY GOLD, Dennis Thompson, owner

2017--02--15 11 GYPSY GOLD - barn - Ocala, FL - by Stan Paregien

2017--02--15 12A GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 12B GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 12C GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 12D GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by Peg Paregien

2017--02--15 13 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 14 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 16 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 17 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 18A GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 18B GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by Peg Paregien

2017--02--15 19 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 20A GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 20B GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by P Paregien

2017--02--15 21A GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 21B GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

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Well, it was a morning of new experiences and lots of information about this beautiful breed of horses, a breed unknown to me until we got to Ocala, Florida and picked up a brochure about the Gypsy Gold Ranch. I’d highly reccomend that you call ahead and get a reservation for 10:00 am on a Wednesday, a Friday or a Saturday. You’ll get about a 45 minute classroom-like informational session from Dennis Thompson himself. And then he will lead the group on a 45 minute or so tour of his ranch. 

Beware of a couple of things: (1) Most of the horses are stallions, breeding horses with high testosterone levels so they can get so excited they may try to take a bite out of you. So don’t reach your hand out to pet them on the head or to feed them a carrot. (2) Yes, Virginia, there are occasional mounds of fire-ants around the ranch. Those little devils can inflict a painful bite, so much so you might feel like you’ll be stuck with a hot ice pick. Just be careful as you walk around and enjoy these beautiful horses.

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Issue 350 – Silver Springs in Ocala, FL

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Issue 350  –  February 21, 2017  

Silver Springs in Ocala, FL

On Tuesday morning, Feb. 14th, my wife Peggy and I set out from Bradenton, Florida for a little excursion to Ocala, Florida. That’s on Interstate 75, about 144 miles north of where we live.

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We arrived about 11:00 am and immediately drover over to the east side of Ocala to the Silver Springs. We bought tickets for the ride on a glass-bottomed boat around the beautiful springs. The deep springs send forth millions of gallons of clear water each day, eventually forming the Spring River which ends about five miles away. The springs are surrounded by lovely gardens and a long walking path.

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There were about 20 of us on that boat, and our driver and guide was a very elderly black gentleman who was very knowledgeable about the history of the springs. At one point, we were able to see 55 feet down to a large cravice where one of the major springs was doing its stuff. 

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We certainly enjoyed our trip through Silver Springs, and we ate lunch there as well. The busy, busy time is right ahead of the folks there because “spring break” time will start pretty soon and run for a month or so.

Oh, hey, I should tell you that we visited several antique and thrift stores in Ocala. The two best were the Habitat for Humanity ReStore at 926 NW 27th Ave., phone 352-401-0075, and the Ocala Antique Mall & Estates at 4425 NW Blitchton Road (aka Highway 27). Take Exit 354 off of I-75 and go east about 1/4 mile and you’ll see the Ocala Antique Mall on your left. In that same shopping center, there’s a neat little restaurant called “Darrel’s Dog Gone Good Cooking” . . . and it was good.

NEXT TIME: We will share the fascinating story of the “Gypsy Vanner” breed of horses and what we learned from Dennis Thompson at his Gypsy Gold Horse Farm in Ocala. 

 

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Issue 349 – Don Betts, A Good Man

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Issue 349  –  February 21, 2017

Don Betts: A Good Man

We were fortunate in meeting Don and Judy Betts the first couple of weeks after we moved to Florida in June of 2013. At the recommendation of Mrs. Richard (Rita) Edwards, whom we met a couple of years before that in our home church in Edmond, Okla., we visited the Central Church of Christ on the east side of Sarasota. And we were met and cheerfully, warmly welcomed by Don and Judy. And they weren’t the only ones. Soon we decided that would be our church home.

Since that time, Don and Judy Betts have been helpful any time we needed information or encouragement. The four of us have been with each other through a variety of health problems and personal ups and downs. We have studied the Bible together, prayed together, worshiped together, eaten many a meal together, gone on day trips together and shared in several music and poetry jams. In addition, at their kind invitation we spent a whole week with them in a condo on a golf course in stunningly beautiful Sedona, Arizona. You get to know people pretty doggoned well when you spend that much time with them. So now we can share the not-so-secret news: Don and Judy Betts are solid citizens, first-class people and dedicated Christians.

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Last Saturday night, Feb. 18, 2017, we went to a birthday part in Bradenton to help Don celebrate his 85th year on mother earth. Judy worked herself to a nub organizing and executing this wonderful event. I’m guessing that some 50 invited guests showed up for a meal, a piece of his birthday cake, and a program where each person had a chance to say something personal to Don. It was a night of gracious words of encouragement and remembrance. Don read a poem, as did his son Tom Betts, and so did I. Here is mine:

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Dr. Pat Hardeman, Ph.D., is a long-time friend of Don and Judy. He earned a doctorate in philosophy and religion from the University of Illinois. In the 1950s he was much in demand as an evangelist and a debater. He then became a professor of religion and philosophy at Florida Christian College (now Florida College) in the Temple Terrace area of Tampa. At the same time, he was a part-time professor at the University of Tampa. He was also a noted and outspoken leader in the Civil Rights movement throughout the state of Florida. He also preached for a time at what today is the Central Church of Christ in Sarasota. Later, he had a highly successful career as a realtor. He was even selected as the President of the Florida Realtor’s Association.

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And now . . . the “Good Ol’ Days of Yore” . . . 

 

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Before there was a bridge across Sarasota Bay to Longboat Key (island), George Betts would row his small boat across the bay to the John Ringling Estate in Sarasota to work as their chief horticulturist. He became familiar with not only all of the Ringling Brothers and their families but with the workers and performers who were employed by the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus.

It was there on the far south side of Longboat Key that George and Mary Betts lived as their family grew. Don Betts came along on Feb. 9, 1932. Most of his childhood was spent roaming through the woods and jungles and swamps on Longboat Key. He still enjoys telling about swimming on the Gulf side and seeing a myriad variety of fish in every wave. What kid would not have liked playing “Tarzan” on his own virtual paradise. He and his sibling could play in the dirt road which ran the length of the island without a car passing through for hours at a time. NOTE: Don’t try that today, especially “during the season.” 

During the course of his life, Don worked for several years as a lineman for Florida Light & Power after he came back from his tour of duty with the U.S. Navy. Then he worked as a Game Ranger out at Myakka State Park. He transitioned from that to serving as a policeman way out in Tucson, Arizona. Later, he worked in a bank in Sarasota and then became an independent insurance agent.

Don and Judy have lived in a lovely home on the golf course at Tara Preserve, in Bradenton, Florida for several years now. 

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Well, that’s just a tiny bit of the story of our friend Don Betts.

The late Louis L’Amour, the best-selling Western novelist of his day, often had a character in his book say about another cowboy: “He would do to ride the river with.” In other words, that man could be trusted to ride for the brand and to do what was right. In this case I’ll just say: You are an awful good man, Don Betts. And we are proud to share part of your life.

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Issue 347 – Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman

Issue 347     –     January 30, 2017

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Ree Drummond: “The Pioneer Woman”

 by Stan Paregien

Copyrighted Jan. 30, 2017

The lady now known as “The Pioneer Woman” was born Ann Marie Smith and nicknamed “Ree.” She grew up as a privileged kid, living with her parents in an upscale house in Bartlesville, Okla., near the 7th tee of an exclusive country club. In 1987 she graduated from Bartlesville High School. In 1991 she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in gerontology from the University of Southern California.

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So Ree Smith’s life was progressing right along a desirable path for a upper class lifestyle. Then Cupid forced her into a left turn up a country dirt road. That’s when she married a good ol’ boy, a hands-on rancher in nearby Pawhuska, Oklahoma by the name of Ladd Drummond. The result was that she became as comfortable in cowboy boots as she had been in high heels. She learned how to help deliver calves, how shovel manure out of stalls, how to rope a horse and how to cook meals cowboy style.

Ah, yes, that cooking thing.

Ree Smith Drummond had a natural talent for cooking and she began to share her recipes and experiences on her blog titled, “The Pioneer Woman: From Heels to Tractor Wheels.” Remember that degree of hers in gerontology? Initially she was a journalism major and she apparently took really good notes. Hundreds and then thousands of people—mostly ladies—sat up and paid attention. And it snowballed. By 2009, she was logging 13 million hits per month. Two years later her blog was receiving 23 million hits per month, with about 4 million being unique individuals. Amazing.

Also in 2009, Drummond saw the publication of her very first cookbook. It was titled, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl.

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Of all things, in 2011 Ree switched to writing a children’s book featuring their own dog, Charlie. I don’t know, but the idea for writing about the family’s flop-earred companion may have come from the highly successful “Hank the Cowdog” series of books in which author John Erickson describes ranch life through the eyes of Hank. In any event, Charlie the Ranch Dog was a hit. And she has published several more since then.

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Also in 2011, her publisheR sorted through her blogs going back to 2007 and compiled them into a book titled, The Pioneer Woman: From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels. It talked about food, of course, but it was mainly a lively revelation of how a city gal fell in love with a cowboy. And it jumped to Number 2 on the NY Times hardcover non-fiction list.

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Now, keep in mind that this jeans-clad cowboy was part of a well-to-do Drummond clan. He wasn’t exactly sleeping out in the bunkhouse with the hired hands when he met the redhead from Bartlesville. So when Rees and Ladd Drummond  honeymooned, they did it in style. They went to Australia.

Ladd Drummond’s ancestor, Frederick Drummond, immigrated from Scotland to the United States in 1884 at the age of 20. He promptly invested in a Texas cattle operation and, knowing nothing about the business, even more promptly lost his money. About 1886 young Fred, now a bit wiser, went to work as a trader (licensed by the U.S. Government). He got a job with the Osage Mercantile Company way out in the village of Pawhuska in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), right on the Osage tribe’s reservation. He sold or traded hundreds of Pendleton-brand blanets and other merchandise to the Osage.

Then love came calling and he married Ms. Adeline Gentner in 1890. They were frugal and saved enough money for Fred to puchase a partnership in the OMC. By 1904, he had stockpiled enough cash to starting his own outfil, The Hominy Trading Company, in the village of Hominy. In time he diversified into real estate, ranching and banking investments. And in 1905, Frederick Drummond built his dream home in Hominy, a Victorian style mansion that still stands today. It is now a museum operated by the Oklahoma Historical Society. It is located at 305 North Price Avenue in Hominy.

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Mrs. and Mrs. Fred Drummond had four children: R. C. (Cecil), F. G. (Gentner), Blanche, and A. A. (Jack). When the patriarch of the family died in 1913, the three Drummond sons went together and founded the Drummond Cattle Company.

Ladd Drummond attended Arizona State University, but he has made his living the hard way. Working the cattle and the land day after day, come rain, shine or snow. Here’s a photo of Ladd Drummond from back in 2011 when he competed in the Amarillo (TX) Range Rodeo with a team of cowboys from the Drummond Land & Cattle Company. They competed in several events, including Wild Cow Milking and Team Branding. Their team was the winner for the sixth consecutive year. And Ladd was chosen as “The Tough Hand” of the rodeo. Heck, no surprise there.

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Well, back to the Pioneer Woman.

Along came the year of 2012. In March of that year Ree published her second cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from My Frontier. While her first book was well-received, this one rang the bell so loudly no one could ignore it. That book hit Number 1 on the Non-Fiction list and stayed there, not just for a week or two but for months. Ca-ching, ca-ching, ca-ching.

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In 2016, Ladd and Ree Drummond proudly opened the doors to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile (and restaurant, and bakery) on the main drag in Pawhuska. They bought the delapidated two-story building in 2011 and worked on remodeling it on a pay-as-you-go basis. Finally, after several years of starts and pauses they got ‘er done. And they did a magnificent job of turning an eye sore into a beautiful, modern place of business. Lots of business, believe me.

My wife Peggy and I went there with James and Glenda Cotton on Friday, January 27, 2017. We all spent quite a bit of time in the Mercantile, then we each had a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll at the bakery on the second floor of the building. Peggy and I got to meet Ladd Drummond and I took a photo of her with him. A few minutes later I was able to take several photos of Ree Drummond after she came out from an office to sign her book and was swamped by dozens of enthusiastic fans. 

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It has become the major tourist draw in that small town. People—yes, mostly ladies—flock there in droves. And on the mercantile floor they eagerly go elbow-to-elbow to select fairly high-end dishes, coffee cups, ball caps, books, sewing material and related items, aprons, rolling pins, and novelty items like Bison Lip Balm. Then they stand in a long line to pay out. And, what with all that hard work, they get in another line to eat at either the full-service restaurant or the bakery upstairs.

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So, there you have it. Ree Drummond zig-zagged to a career she never imagined. She is an award-winning blogger, a nationally recognized force in the book publishing industry, a host of her own wildly popular TV cooking show on the FoodNetwork, the owner of her own retail store and much more. Add to that the role of mother to four teenagers and wife of a hard-working rancher.

Ree, as they like to say in Oklahoma, “Ya done good. Real good.”

NOTE: Her web site is at: http://www.thepioneerwoman.com, and that’s where you’ll find her blogs. 

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Issue 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.

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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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Issue 316 – St. Francis Dam in Story & Song

The Paregien Digest  –  Issue 316  –  December 5, 2015

 Stan Paregien, Editor

The 1928  St. Francis Dam Disaster:

The Story & A Song

by Stan Paregien Sr.

Copyrighted 2015

 

The St. Francis Dam was built between 1924 and 1926 in the San Francisquito Canyon up in the Sierra Pelona Mountains about 10 miles north of what today is Santa Clarita, California (the site is about 40 north of downtown Los Angeles). It was built both as an additional source of water for Los Angeles and as a way to control occasional flooding downstream in the Santa Clara Valley. The dam itself was a gravity dam made of concrete in was a curved fashion.

1928--43   St Francis Dam - William Mulholland

William Mulholland was both the General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the “Chief Engineer” (though he had no engineering degree; he taught himself by reading engineering and geology books). He was directly responsible for the construction and maintenance of the dam.

1928--31   Modern map St_Francis_Dam_area_terrain_relief_1_svg

The modern map, above, shows the historic location of the St. Francis Dam in the center of the map.  [“St Francis Dam area terrain relief 1” by Kbh3rd – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons ]

It was Mulholland himself who chose the site for the dam, and that was the moment the disaster began. That area was known to be unstable. The original plan for the dam was for it to be 175 feet high with a capacity of 30,000 acres of water. In 1925, after the first concrete had been poured, Mr. Mulholland approved a change to a height of 185 feet and a reservoir capacity of 38,000. All this with very little structural change.

1928--32   St Francis Dam nearing capacity - failed on Mar 12, 1928

The dam was completed on May 4, 1926 and steadily filled the reservoir behind it. Some cracks and leaks were noted into 1927, but they were considered normal and in some cases attempts were made to seal them. But in the spring of 1928, heavy rains pushed the dam toward its capacity . . . and, significantly, it began to really leak. Lots of leaks.

Staff and concerned citizens finally demanded that Mulholland come up and inspect the dam himself. He did so on March 11, 1928. He declared it was safe and such leaks were normal and that crews would fix them in the coming days. All was well. 

It just over 24 hours later, at exactly 11:57 p.m. on March 12th,  when the mountainside on the left end of the dam collapsed and brought down the dam. A wall of water—estimated at 12.4 billion gallons and at least 120 feet high–roared down the canyon at 18 mph, carrying, most of the structure of dam far down into the canyon below. When the flood entered the Santa Clara Valley, it careened to the right and followed the Santa Clara River bed west toward the Pacific ocean at a height of about 55 feet and a  speed of 12 mph. It was 54 miles from the dam to the mouth of the Pacific Ocean.

1928--34   St Francis Dam - map to Ventura

Many small communities and larger towns lay in the path of the raging wall of water. There were no warning systems in place. It wiped out the village of Castaic Junction, where Highway 126 and present-day Interstate 5 intersect.

Some five miles downstream the deluge hit the spot where my father worked and where we lived in the mid-1950s. My father, Harold Paregien, was a farm laborer in the walnut orchards for the farming division of the Newhall Land and Farming Company. We lived in an old farm house which someone told us had survived the flood, but I have no verification of that.

The house stood at the eastern end of “the flats” which ran a mile or so to the west. The house was about a hundred yards or so east of the Los Angeles County and Ventura County line, and on the south side of the railroad track (between the track and a 25 foot bluff overlooking the normally placid Santa Clara River).

About a half-mile west of our house, the mountains on each side crowded the riverbed. In the attached photo, below, please note a “notch” in the low mountain ridge about 1/2 of the way from the left side. Highway 126 ran through there and many called that notch  “The Blue Cut.” That ridge of the mountain formed a natural bottleneck for the flood and backed up the murky flood waters to a considerable depth. Simultaneously, it created a gigantic whirlpool before shooting out the pass like a high pressure fire hose. It was there in the west flats in Ventura County that a terrible loss of life took place. It normally would have been deserted, with our farm house to the east and another farm house perched high on the hill (notch) just to the northwest on Highway 126. The farmer who lived there worked for the orange orchard division of Newhall Land and Farming Company.

1928--30   St Francis Dam break --  Flood - Santa Clara Valley - west of LA-Ventura County Line on Hwy 126

The Southern California Edison electric company had rented a spot of Newhall Land & Farming Company’s land or a temporary tent city set up on the far west flats. Some 150 men were building a new electric line project through the valley. They were sleeping when, with only a few shouts of warning, the awful wall of water—estimated at 20 feet high–engulfed them. Most survived, but 84 died horrible deaths. The rumor was that the company’s cash box containing hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars, was buried somewhere downstream.

1928--41   St Francis Dam - site of Edison Construction Crew at 'Blue Cut'

1928--42   St Francis Dam - Farmer Joe Gotardi searching for wife and 5 kids

When it reached the orange orchards a mile or so down on the south side of the river bed, Newhall Land & Farming Company executives believed the wave of water was at least 60 feet high to reach up as far as it did. The flood continued west on past tiny Piru and doing major damage to the community of Bardsdale and the town of Fillmore (the latter being where I graduated from high school in 1959).

At about 1:30 a.m. on what by then was March 13, 1928, the lonely telephone operator on duty at the Santa Paula switchboard received an urgent call. It was from an area manager telling her that the St. Francis Dam had collapsed and a deadly wall of water was rushing her way down the Santa Clara Valley. That local operator, Louise Gipe, notified the police and then called the on-duty telephone operator in Saticoy, just to the west of Santa Paula, alerting them to the immediate danger. Both operators called and awoke as many residents as they could, especially in the lower areas nearer the river.

There in Santa Paula, two motorcycle officers for the California Highway Patrol, got the warning. They roared down to the areas near the river, knocked on doors and yelled the message to evacuate toward higher ground right then. Those brave men, officers Thornton Edwards and Stanley Baker, were able to alert scores and scores of sleeping residents to the danger and those folks passed the message on to many of their neighbors. Thus, the officers effectually saved hundreds of people from certain death. In recognition of their bravery, a statue was erected 2003 in Santa Paula in honor of them and to their memory.

1928--39   St Francis Dam - Santa Paula memorial to motorcycle offiers

Photo by Stan Paregien Sr.

The flood waters ravaged Santa Paula and parts of Ventura before dumping many bodies and tons of mangled houses and trees into the ocean. The inland tsunami reached the Pacific Ocean at about 5:30 a.m. on the morning of March 13, 1928. It had taken 5 1/2 hours for the leading edge of the massive, raging wall of water to travel from the dam site to the Pacific Ocean 54 miles away. The wall spewed into the ocean near the tiny community of Montalvo an awful cocktail that was two miles wide and full of human and animal remains, mangled metal, splintered wood, sewage, asbestos products, insecticides, solvents, oil and gasoline, and much, much more.

1928--38   St Francis Dam - map by Ventura, Calif Star -- I think

Early estimates of the deaths from the flood were widely inaccurate. Over time the best guesses were that somewhere between 400 and 600 people died. That truth was hard to come by since there were a number of undocumented farm workers who died in the flood. There were people who went missing and whose bodies were never recovered. There were scores of relief agencies, such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, and military groups recovering bodies along the 54 mile path of destruction. There were scores of funeral homes assisting in trying to identify and document a large number of badly damaged bodies. And bodies from the flood were found as far south as the coast of northern Mexico. Making the number of deaths even more fluid is the fact that periodically additional victims were  found in the ruble, not just for years but for decades. The last flood victim discovered was in 1994, buried in the sand and mud along the Santa Clara River.

However, a graduate student named Ann Stansell in 2014 concluded her investigation and documentation of the known flood victims. The student at California State University (Northridge) wrote her master’s thesis on the subject and spent nearly three years searching death certificates, newspapers, funeral home records, family documents, etc., to catalog those who died.

Ms. Stansell’s investigation concluded that the authorities actually recovered 306 bodies, but only 240 of them were ever identified. There were another 125 people who went missing and were never found. Of those 125 missing people, family members made death claims on only 79 of those. So the proven dead (306) and the still missing (125) totals up to 431 people.

In addition, Ms. Stansell tabulated in a spreadsheet format the available date on 306 victims. That includes their name, age, town of residence, location at the time of the flood, nearest relative, and which funeral home handled each body. In many cases, she also provides a photo of the victim (often with other members of the family). All of this, of course, helps to make these large death numbers more real and manageable.

Some of her may be found online at the web site for the Santa Clarita (Calif.) Historical Society at:  http://www.scvhistory.com/scvhistory/ – annstansell_damvictims022214.htm .

The loss of life was horrific and heart-wrenching. But don’t forget the physical damages. Train tracks and train bridges, highway bridges and paved roads were destroyed. Powerline poles, transformer boxes and transmission lines were knocked down. Irrigation and farm equipment were completely ruined. Whole dairies and small businesses and hundreds upon hundreds of individual homes were washed away or mangled beyond recognition.  Horses, cattle, pets of all descriptions were killed or injured. Cars and school buses and commercial trucks were buried in muck. Large parts of groves of walnut trees, orange trees and lemon trees simply vanished. Church buildings, retail stores, mom and pop restaurants, warehouses, bars and barbershops either smashed to small pieces, swept off their foundations or so badly water-logged they were not only immediately unusable but ultimately unfixable. It was a 54 mile long crisis of an unbelievable magnitude of misery. The figure for property damages, even in 1928 dollars, must have been in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  

Let’s see how that played out for one company, the huge Newhall Land & Farming Company based in Newhall (now Santa Clarita), Calif. This is just a summary of the various farm lands that the flood ruined. The flood destroyed 1,000 acres of alfalfa. It destroyed 600 acres of dry land farming. It ruined 400 acres where an orange orchard once grew. It destroyed 80 acres where a pecan tree orchard was located. That totals a whopping 2,080 acres of farm land taken out of production, much of it permanently.

1928--35   St Francis Dam - Wm Mulholland and Van Norman inspect failure

Several investigations took place right after the flood, as there was great public concern about whether the construction of the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River—a project hundreds of times larger than the St. Francis—was another dangerous thing. In the end, even after modern studies, the main culprit seems to have been Mulholland’s misjudgment about the location of the dam and the stability of the earth beneath and adjacent to the dam. The official coroner’s inquiry was a judgement not only against William Mulholland but against the system itself as they concluded: “The construction of a municipal dam should never be left to the sole judgment of one man, no matter how eminent.”

Some people were so angry they posted signs in their yards which read, “Kill Mulholland.” To his credit, William Mulholland accepted the blame for the disaster. Part of his testimony was this: “Don’t blame anyone else, you just fasten it on me. If there was an error in human judgment, I was the human, and I won’t try to fasten it on anyone else. On an occasion like this, I envy the dead.”

Although Mulholland was demonized by the public in general, his career was not over. He did lose his job with the city of Los Angeles, where his right-hand man, Harvey Van Norman became the Chief Engineer. Mulholland  kept a fairly low profile, but he was able to work as a consultant on many other engineering projects—including the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River.

In 1995, an geological engineering professor at the University of Missouri (at Rolla) wrote his analysis of what went wrong with the St. Francis Dam.

First of all, Dr. J. David Rogers concluded that, yes indeed, Mulholland chose the wrong spot for a dam. Dr. Rogers said that the problem, contrary to the earliest investigations, was with the eastern abutment (mountain) where the concrete dam was anchored rather than the western abutment. The problem with that eastern anchor is that it was made up of a rock formation called “Pelona schist.” It was an unstable and somewhat porous , spongy material. So as the dam was filled, that rock actually absorbed water and weakened, much like some composite flooring commonly found in manufactured homes will upon contact with water become a mushy sawdust with little or no strength to support anything.  

Second, Dr. Rogers said that Mulholland also made a fatal mistake when he arbitrarily raised the height of the dam by 10 feet without modifying the base of the dam from the original blueprints. That put way too much pressure on the abutment and on the dam itself.

Third, Mulholland did not include in the blueprints for the St. Francis Dam any sufficient provisions to counteract the factor called “hydraulic uplift.” This phenomenon, commonly known by professional engineers of the 1910s and later, actually results in the force of the water behind a dam “lifting” it slightly and tilting it forward (or downstream). The only place Mulholland did that was in the very center of the dam where he installed ten uplift relief walls at the base. That one section was the only part of the dam left standing, standing like a gravestone or a monument to human arrogance and/or ignorance.

So Dr. Rogers concluded that those three mistakes, together, made a failure of the structure almost inevitable.  And in 2004, a study by Donald C. Jackson (an Associate Professor of History at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania) and by Norris Hundley Jr. (Professor of American History at the University of California at Los Angeles) pointed to Mulholland’s lack of appreciation for the devastating effect of hydraulic uplift. They concluded, “William Mulholland understood the great privilege that had been afforded him to build the St. Francis Dam where and how he chose. Because of this privilege—and the decisions that he made—William Mulholland bears responsibility for the St. Francis Dam disaster.”

1928--40   St Francis Dam - Newhall, Ruiz Cemetery -- Wm S Hart

The failure of the St. Francis Dam still stands as the 2nd most deadly disaster in the entire history of California, only outranked by the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. There is one big distinction, however. The 1928 dam break is still number one in terms of a man-made disaster. And that event eventually resulted in revising and tightening laws related to building dams, and it resulted in establishing strict educational requirements and certifications for those who want to hold themselves out to the public as engineers.

 

Resources

 

Blasotti, Tony. “St. Francis Dam disaster: a receipe for failure, tragedy and heroism.“ Article found on the online version of the Ventura County Star newspaper, dated March , 2006. Found at:

 http://www.vcstar.com/news/2008/mar/12/the-st-francis-dam-disaster-80th-anniversary-a/

 

B-Westerns.Com

Has a nice bio of police officer Thornton Edwards and a couple of photos from his work in the movies.  http://www.b-westerns.com/villan71.htm

 

Dam Disaster.Com

http://www.sespe.com/damdisaster/shop.html

 

Evans, Diane (an engineer). “Deadly Flooding in the San Francisquito”.

http://civil-engineering.suite101.com/article.cfm/deadly_flooding_in_the_san_francisquito_canyon

 

Master, Shannon. “St. Francis Dam disaster: Mulholland’s Tragic Mistake.” March 22, 2009. The Signal (newspaper), Santa Clarita, Calif.     http://www.the-signal.com/news/archive/10939/

 

Newhall, A.M and George A. Newhall, Jr. “Report on St. Francis Dam Flood For The Newhall Land & Farming Company.”  March 24, 1928.

http://www.scvhistory.com/scvhistory/nlf-stfrancis.htm

Nichols, John. Images of America: St. Francis Dam Disaster. Chicago, IL: Arcadia Publishing, 2002.  [He is a resident of Santa Paula, Ca]

 

Norris, Michele. “The St. Francis Dam Disaster, The Second-worst Disaster in California History.” NPR Radio Broadcast on March 12, 2003. She interviews the daughter of the dam’s  Chief Engineer (Wm. Mulholland) and a woman who was 13 when her parents and  brother were lost in the flood and she was swept 9 miles downstream before being rescued. About 10 minutes long.    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1190341

Rock, Frank. Video interview with a resident of the area who has studied the flood for many years. This is a very well done video. About 30 minutes long.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7744662880949006284#

 

Rogers, J. David. “Lessons Learned from the St. Francis Dam Disaster.” Geo-Strata. March/April, 2006. [Found online at:    http://web.mst.edu/~rogersda/st_francis_dam/lessons_learned_from_the_st_francis_dam_failure(geostrata_mar-apr_2006).pdf

 

Rogers, J. David and Kevin James. “Mapping the St. Francis Dam Outburst Flood With GIS.” PowerPoint presentation with 29 slides.  [ Found online at: http://web.mst.edu/~rogersda/st_francis_dam/ ]

 

“St. Francis Dam.”  Wikipedia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Francis_Dam

 

St. Francis Dam Disaster (YouTube)

 

Ventura County Star. This newspaper which serves the entire county has produced a fantastic video experience of the flood. Be sure to watch this video at :   http://web.vcstar.com/video/08/damflyover0308/damflyover0308.html

 

Wilkman, Jon. “The St. Francis Dam Disaster” 

[ Found online at: http://www.wilkman.com/SFD/SFD%204.htm  ]

 

 

The St. Francis Dam Disaster Blues

aka  Sweetie Pie Blues

     

                               by Stan Paregien Sr

 

Copyrighted Jan. 27, 2010 by Stan Paregien Sr. All rights reserved. Play similar to “Blues Stay Away From Me” ( Recorded by The Delmore Brothers. Words and music by Alton Delmore, Rabon Delmore, Henry Glover & Wayne Raney.) Watch and listen to Stan singing his song at www.youtube.com/watch?v=q65NBvP7hmg ]

 1953--048   Sweetie Pie -- Fillmore, CA

 [D]   We called him Sweetie Pie just as long as I recall.

[G]   Yes, we called him Sweetie Pie as long as I re-  [D]  call.

Never heard nobody   [A7]  say Sweetie Pie’s real name.

It was plain ol’ Sweetie Pie, that’s   [D]  all.

 

Now as a kid I was told Sweetie Pie’s sad tale.

[G]   Yes, most everybody knew ’bout his sad  [D] tale.

His parents were killed   [A7]  in that flood of 1928,

When the St. Francis Dam did   [D]   fail.

 

Mr. Mulholland built a dam across a big canyon,

[G]   Some five miles northeast of Saugus   [D]  town.

He built it to send water   [A7]  to Los Angeles,

But on March 12th that dam crashed on   [D]  down.

 

CHORUS:

         Oh, Mr. Mulholland, you done Sweetie Pie wrong.

         [G]  Yes, Mr. Mulholland, you done every body   [D] wrong.

         You killed 431 people and   [A7] that’s why we grieve

         Through the words of this little ol’   [D]  song.

 

Oh Mr. Mulholland, you were the engineering man.

[G]  Yes, Mr. Mulholland, you were the engineering  [D] man.

But you chose the   [A7]  wrong danged location;

That’s when the St. Francis Dam disaster be-  [D]  gan.

 

 

That 12-story wall of water swept everything away.

[G] Yes, that giant wall of water swept everything a- [D] way.

The raging current buried hundreds   [A7]  there in the mud,

And others were washed  into the Pacific that   [D]  day.

 

 REPEAT CHORUS

 

Well, Sweetie Pie searched for his parents so dear.

[G]  Yes, searched from Piru to Fillmore for those so    [D]  dear.

He lived in that riverbed    [A7]  and looked and looked,

Never findin’ a trace of ’em year after   [D]   year.

 

I once saw ol’ Sweetie Pie near the river so still.

[G]   Yes, along that Santa Clara River so small and  [D]  still.

I was kinda scared of the  [A7]  strange actin’ old man,

But he just ignored me and walked up the   [D]  hill.

 

REPEAT CHORUS

 

Hey, Sweetie Pie, listen up wherever you may be.

[G]  Hundreds of other families still share your  [D] pain.

And we think about those  [A7]  500 innocent victims

Of the St. Francis flood each time we hear it  [D]  rain.

 

 

Now there’s just one more thing before I say goodbye,

[G]   Yes, there’s just one more thing before I up and [D]   scram.

Don’t ever buy yourself a house    [A7]  that is downstream

From any ol’ damned government    [D]  dam.

 

[Close the song by whistling the chorus.]

 

Song written and copyrighted at Edmond, Oklahoma on Jan. 27, 2010.

All rights are reserved.

 

 

END.

This entire manuscript, from the essay to the song above, is copyrighted by Stan Paregien Sr. All rights are reserved. However, permission to perform or recite the song is hereby given for personal or non-profit use. Any commercial use of the song or the essay requires the express written permission of the author. Contact him at paregien@gmail.com 

________________________________________________

 

 

 

Issue 315 – 1973 Tulsa Unity Forum

The Paregien Journal – Issue 315  – Dec. 3, 2015

Stan Paregien, Editor

 

NOTE:  See photos of the Tulsa Forum . . . and more . . . at the end of this article. — SP

1973 Tulsa Unity Forum:

Essays by Leroy Garrett,

W. Carl Ketcherside

& Stan Paregien Sr

 

Unity Forums in Tulsa, Indianapolis & Houston

 by Dr. Leroy Garrett

Restoration Review (Vol. 15, Number 7), September 1973

8th Annual Unity Forum . . . in Tulsa

The 8th Annual Unity Forum was held this year on the campus of the University of Tulsa. It was arranged and conducted by a committee of concerned believers, chaired by Larry Bradshaw, a professor at the university. It was well attended, with some sessions attracting 400 or more; and there was enthusiastic response in the sharing sessions and question periods. The speakers were from varied backgrounds of the Restoration, as was the audience, and both speakers and audience had a rather large representation of “Church of Christ charismatics.”

Emphasis was given to questions regarding the Spirit, not only because this is of great concern to many in Tulsa, but because the committee realized that oneness among God’s people is, after all, the fruit of the Spirit.

During the planning stage the committee was resolved to bring J. D. Bales, professor of Harding College, and the controversial Pat Boone together in the large auditorium on the campus of Oral Roberts University. I was not enthusiastic about this prospect, not for a unity forum at least, for there is a different atmosphere created in the big blowout kind of an affair and the humbler type of gatherings of a unity meeting. But the committee was gung-ho for a Bales-Boone shootout, and since I knew both men they handed me the assignment of belling the cat.

I talked by phone with Pat in Beverly Hills and found him most responsive to the notion. In fact he roared with enthusiastic laughter when I informed him that J. D. would be his respondent, going on to assure me that the professor would behave in a manner consistent with a unity effort, an assurance that I did not particularly need, realizing that brother Bales is a Christian gentleman. But Pat was most cooperative, and he was raring to go, convinced that this sort of open and frank discussion is appropriate. He spoke of schedule problems, and offered to approach Oral Roberts as a substitute if he himself could not arrange it.

Then I called J. D., realizing that he might not be able to expend all that energy due to his recent illness. But the prospect of meeting Pat at such a place as Oral Roberts University was sufficient motivation to energize an old warhorse like brother J. D. And I was pleased to note an attitude of love and respect moving in both directions, Pat toward J. D. and J. D. toward Pat.

Pat sent me his schedule for the months ahead, including the time we had set for the unity forum, and there was no way to schedule him unless we simply built the meeting around him. So we resorted to our alternate plan, which I suspect was just as well, and that was to bring Warren Lewis from West Islip, N. Y., who is known to be one of our most knowledgeable men on charismata, and to have Marvin Phillips of the Yale Blvd. congregation in Tulsa, to respond to him.

This part of the program did not seem to satisfy the charismatics, and I am not sure why. Marvin did unusually well, partly due to his irenic spirit and partly due to his more open stance on the Spirit’s work. He believes in a real indwelling of the Spirit and certainly does not limit his ministry to the composition of scripture. But he does not believe the gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 are applicable to the modern church, as does Warren. Warren, too, was brilliant. The disappointment may have been that the issues that most concerned people were never really joined.

Too, I am persuaded that our charismatic brothers, bless their hearts, are very intent upon advancing their cause, and I do not object to this necessarily, if the crusading is not sectarian. Well, the cause was hardly advanced. I was told by several that we had selected the wrong men for the study, and one of our tongue-speakers, who was one of the dearest souls there, was so candid during a sharing session as to express his disappointment with the discussion on the Spirit.

One charismatic brother supplied us with some tongue-speaking, only a sentence or two in a sharing session along with a testimonial, but there was something about it that led some to wonder if this is really what the Holy Spirit is doing. But there was really no untoward incident at any time and a beautiful spirit prevailed throughout.

Perry Gresham of Bethany College was our keynoter, sharing with us his conviction that our great heritage as disciples has within it the healing ingredients that our people so badly need. Perry is as resourceful as he is reasonable, and he has the rare talent of coupling these to charm. I overheard one sister say to him, “You are the most charming speaker I’ve ever heard.” The men were also impressed!

Carl Ketcherside spoke unto us a parable, drawn from his boyhood experience, showing that the problem of estrangement between brothers is really a problem of proper relationship with the Father. Carl did not get along with his younger brother until he had a talk with his father, and once that relationship was in good repair and he saw his proper role in the family, he had no trouble accepting his brother, despite the differences. It was sort of a Mark Twain kind of story, with young Carl as obstreperous and cunning as Huck Finn, and it had the Mark Twain wit and humor, as well as his simple profundity. Vic Hunter, editor of Mission, who presided over one of the forums, is considering publishing the parable, so maybe you’ll get to read it.

Waymon Miller, Stan Paregien, and Thomas Langford led us in a helpful discussion of some of our slogans, such as “No creed but Christ” and “In matters of faith, unity; in matters of opinion, liberty; in all things, love.” And one innovative highlight was a discussion on the ministry of women, led by women. RuthAsh of Dallas and Gloria Bradshaw of Tulsa read papers on how they see it (seated quietly behind a table!) and even fielded questions that left no doubt but what there is much yet to be said. Cleona Harvey of Indiana was scheduled to appear also, but was unable to be present.

This particular series of yearly forums will end with ten. The ninth one will be next summer in Nashville, and in 1975 it will end where it began, at Bethany College where the first one was held in 1966.

On to Indianapolis

The North American Christian Convention, which is the major gathering of the Independent Christian Churches, was held just after our Tulsa forum, July 10-1 3, and I was pleased to be among the 31,000 that attended the Indianapolis affair. Upwards of 50,000 registered in the churches, so the number who actually attended was a near record, and the evening sessions had impressive audiences of 12,000 to 16,000. The program book ran almost I 00 pages, so one can imagine the wide scope of the convention, with something for all age groups and all ministries of the church. Over 400 people were on the program in some capacity, not counting the entertainment groups, which helps to explain the large attendance. Too, the leaders seek to make it a family convention, which makes for bushels of kids all over the place who have their own little sub-convention going.

The convention leaders apparently have no idea but what the affair is to be a great gathering of Independent Christian Churches, but those of us who are interested in the unity of our Movement would hope that it could be used for more substantial crossing of sectarian lines than appear evident. True, the NACC has from time to time invited non-Independents, a Disciple here and a Church of Christ leader there, and even an occasional Baptist or Presbyterian; but for the most part it has all the characteristics of one more giant denominational gathering. And with that goes the usual trivia and superficiality that was evident enough at Indianapolis. The NACC leaders have succeeded in achieving bigness, which is a just tribute to a lot of hard work and careful planning, but as to how significant it is to the critical needs of Christian Churches-Churches of Christ is a question.

At one luncheon I overheard a Disciple from Bethany remark that we need an “umbrella convention” where all our disparate groups can feel at home together. My answer to that is that if we all loved each other enough and were really concerned for the prayer of Jesus for the oneness of his people, then we would find a way to make all our great meetings umbrellas, whether they be lectureships in Abilene and Nashville or annual conventions such as the NACC and the International Convention of Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ).

Those of us who are responsible for Fellowship, the new publication issued jointly by concerned ones from our three major groups, passed out sample copies to hundreds of convention visitors. This provided opportunity to get reactions. Some saw it as the most encouraging thing that has happened in our Movement’s history, while many showed little concern. One sister from an enterprising Independent congregation would not even accept a copy once she was told that Disciples had something to do with it. “They don’t even believe in the Virgin Birth,” she assured me, “so I’m not interested in reading anything they write.” The fact that the president of her own convention was one of the editors did not influence her.

On to Houston

Next came a meeting in Houston with a group of Church of God folk. This grew out of a visit I had with Max Gaulke, president of Gulf Coast Bible College, which resulted in our decision to have an invitational unity meeting between some of our people. He invited 12 from the Church of God, while I invited 12 from the Church of Christ, all from the Houston area. We had young and old, black and white, laymen and clergy, students and Ph.D.’s. I was eager for this experience, for I am persuaded that it is this kind of approach that we need more of. There was no advertising and no announcements. It was quietly arranged as one more way to break down barriers and build bridges. No speeches were planned. It was a matter of meeting and sharing together, looking to God’s Spirit to lead us however and wherever.

The first night we encouraged each person within the circle to say something about what God has done in his or her life. It was an important way of getting acquainted.

The testimonials were substantial, encouraging and edifying, leading us to realize that we have so very much in common. The Church of God folk kept expressing their amazement that such a meeting was occurring, for all their previous experiences with our people had been negative.

The second night we discussed a number of differences between us, and while the exchange was vigorous and frank it was always brotherly and irenic. And some time was spent in a sharing of information, people with different backgrounds probing one another as to what they believed, points of agreement as much as disagreement. We prayed together and rejoiced that God had brought us together. It was observed that this is the unity of the Spirit and that our task is to restore such mutuality throughout our ranks. We were, after all, baptized believers together, which made us brothers, and that for two nights at least we had treated each other as brothers. No one seemed to have any notion that all our differences would have to be settled before we could accept each other as brothers.

I observed an interesting distinction between the two groups that went far deeper than any “denominational” differences. They were people well within the mainstream of their own branch of the Church of God, the Anderson, Indiana group, for they were ministers, professors, administrators, and students associated with their Bible college. Ours was “the dirty dozen” in that for the most part we are not exactly kosher among our own people. Two of our number came from the non-class group. One was a black minister. Four or five were young ministers who, even though in a sense “in”, are among our revolting young princes. One was a bona fide elder from a respected Houston congregation, but one who is a country mile ahead in his thinking and daring. One was a business man and another an educator, both of whom represent the freer church within the Church of Christ. If follows, of course, that such ones are the only ones who would attend such a meeting with any degree of openness.

This made for an interesting study. I discerned more of an inclination on their part to defend prevalent beliefs and practices in the Church of God than on the part of

our people to defend our known positions. We could well be tagged Church of Christ “liberals,” whereas they did not seem to have any comparable group in the Church of God. They were at times a little on the defensive when their status quo was questioned, whereas our people were as quick to criticize some of our practices as they were. It was something like an anti-institutional group of one church in conference with the institutional group of another church.

In spite of all this they were as open as any of us in their fraternization, for they had no problem in recognizing Christians in other churches and enjoying fellowship with them. This means that even at the starting point the Church of God folk have not been as sectarian as ourselves, and they therefore haven’t as great a need for a revolt. We all agreed that it was a delightful and enlightening experience.

End.

In 1959, Leroy Garrett became an advocate for Christian unity among all believers. He edited and published a magazine, Restoration Review, from 1959 to 1992, to spread his views.

Garrett, Leroy - in  2013 at ACU

Dr. Leroy Garrett died at the age of 96 on Sept. 29, 2015 in Denton, Texas, his hometown for 53 years. Many of his writings can be found at:    www.leroygarrett.org .

Garrett, Leroy -- A LOVER'S QUARREL - His autobiography - 2003

Garrett, Leroy  --  The Stone-Campbell Movement  - 572 page history

 

 

Please see the photos on the following pages.

 

Footnotes to the Tulsa Unity Forum

by Stan Paregien Sr.

November 17, 2015

W. Carl Ketcherside

1973-028A-CarlKetcherside-TulsaOK

Photo by Stan Paregien

 

I grew up in a very conservative congregation in Fillmore, Calif. We were pretty sure all other churches were in error of some kind and, therefore, had nothing to do with them. We were going to heaven (maybe, if we worked hard enough) and they were going to . . . well, not that place.

Then in about 1963, while a ministerial student at Lipscomb University in Nashville, I discovered a small, plain magazine in the religious periodicals room of the library. I thumbed through it and was shocked to find the editor arguing for fellowship with the Baptists. Even more astounding, he was quoting from writings of the founder of our college, good ol’ David Lipscomb himself. After pinching myself to see whether I was dreaming, my first thought was that if David Lipscomb came back from the grave today and shared his own words in our daily chapel service or at any local church, he would be disfellowship and escorted off of the campus for teaching “false doctrine.”

I kept reading that little magazine, titled Mission Messenger, and slowly my mind and heart were opened to how really large the family of God is and how wondrously we are saved entirely by God’s grace and our faith, apart from works. Then I began corresponding with that editor, W. Carl Ketcherside, who was previously unknown to me. And from Carl’s magazine, I found out about his friend and fellow advocate of Christian unity, Dr. Leroy Garrett. I subscribed to Dr. Garrett’s own magazine, Restoration Review, and began corresponding with him as well.

Ten years later, at the time of the Tulsa Unity Forum in July of 1973, I was living with my wife and children in Stroud, Oklahoma and working as a college textbook salesman. The Forum was the first and only time I ever met Carl Ketcherside. It was the first of three times I would meet Leroy Garrett. And it was an inspiring time for me to hear them and to actually be on the same program with them.

[I am indebted to Scott Harp for much of the following material about Carl. It is posted as part of the story of Carl’s life and is on a web site at:  http://www.therestorationmovement.com/_states/missouri/ketcherside.htm ]

Carl Ketcherside was born May 10, 1908 in Cantwell, Missouri. As early as 1943 he involved himself in radio evangelism in St. Louis, Missouri. For a number of years he conducted a thirty minute radio program called, “The Church of Christ Hour,” that appeared on Sunday afternoons.

Carl loved reading, but was best known for his writing. He wrote               thirty-four books on various biblical topics. For thirty-seven years he     was editor of a magazine entitled, Mission Messenger. In his early days, he was as narrow-minded and sectarian as they came.

Scott Harp then explained the great change that Carl Ketcherside experience in his life and preaching ministry:

“The date of March 27, 1951 was of particular importance to W. Carl Ketcherside. A few weeks previous he had answered calls from brethren in Ireland to come and help them in their work. Early on this day, he, with a number of brethren from Belfast, had boarded buses and traveled to Ahorey, the boyhood home of Alexander Campbell. The old Presbyterian church where his father, Thomas had preached in 1798, was still being used by the Presbyterians.

“Permission had been sought and given for Ketcherside and the brethren to conduct a worship service there. Upon entering the old church building he noted a bronze plaque showing the face of Thomas Campbell with the inscription, Prophet of Union. His text was taken from Ephesians 2:14, ‘For He is our peace who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.’ He felt that his reading and discussion was more addressed to himself than to his hearers. He continued the rest of the day repeating in his mind the words, ‘For He is our peace.’

“Later that evening, after returning to Belfast with the brethren, he had left the home of some of the Christians, having eaten supper with them. He began walking for two miles through a strong snow storm toward where he was staying. He said had never felt more alone in the world. He continued during his walk thinking about the events of the day, and the work of Thomas and Alexander Campbell to restore the unity to all believers. He did not sleep all night, soul-searching about what he termed, his ‘sectarian spirit.’

“The following morning he began reading the book of Revelation. When he got to Revelation, and the words of the Lord to the church at Laodicia, the words sunk deeply into him. He read, ‘For you said, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked,’ v.17, and felt that he had been of this mindset in his life and ministry. Then he read the words of Jesus, ‘Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him and him with me,’ v.20. At that moment, the forty-three year old preacher did something he said he had never done. He asked Jesus into his heart. And from that moment on he held to a completely different approach to life, to worship, to Christianity, and to ministry.

“Upon returning to the United States there were still efforts being made to defend positions he had held for so long. As mentioned above there were other debates he held during that next couple of years. However between 1954 and 1957 changes began to take place that little by little caused brethren to see a difference in Carl’s way of thinking. Being so moved and overwhelmed at the memories of his experiences in Ireland, he began reading extensively the writings of the early years of the Restoration Movement. He read the five volumes set of Moses Lard’s Quarterly. He read Alexander Campbell’s Christian Baptist, and as many volumes of the Millennial Harbinger as he could lay his hands upon.

“He quickly came to believe that many in his generation among churches of Christ, including himself, had moved further and further away from the cries for unity being preached in the movement’s early years, and that the church of his day looked nothing like what the early reformers had envisioned. Very quickly he determined never to enter into a debate again with anyone, finding the debating platform more divisive than instructive.” [by Scott Harp]

Ketcherside--WCarl

In about 1969 or so, I came up with the idea of getting leaders from the various factions of the “Restoration Movement” (i.e., Churches of Christ, Independent Christian Churches and Disciples of Christ Churches) to write their views on how we could have greater or at least some unity in our work for the Lord. So I wrote a letter to Carl Ketcherside and asked whether he might be interested in publishing it. He immediately liked the idea and told me to go ahead with the project. The end result was that I collected essays on the topic of unity from 18 different leaders. And Carl Ketcherside and his Mission Messenger press did, indeed, publish my book —   Stan Paregien, Editor.  Thoughts On Unity. St. Louis, MO: Mission Messenger, 1971. It has been out of print for many years, but thanks to the work of Carl’s family it is now available on Amazon.com as an e-Book.

1971-031--A--ThoughtsOnUnity--FrontCover

1971-031--C--backcover-ThoughtsOnUnity

1971-031--B--inside-flaps-ThoughtsOnUnity

Carl Ketcherside kept writing his little, non-descript Mission Messenger magazine until 1975. It ended with 8,200 paid subscriptions. He turned to hands-on-work in the inner city of St. Louis, and to speaking appointments in many states and foreign countries. Even many who had opposed his “liberal” ideas in the past started applauding his efforts. Many of his writings are still available in print. See more at http://www.unity-in-diversity.org/ .

Carl Ketcherside developed heart problems and died at the age of 81 on May 25, 1989. Dr. Leroy Garrett, his dear friend for decades, delivered a touching eulogy. Carl’s hometown was Farmington, Missouri, and it is there in the Parkview Cemetery where Carl’s body was buried and a simple, flat marker was placed.

___________

Leroy Garrett

1973-034--UnityMeeting--LeroyGarrett-Tulsa

Photo by Stan Paregien

Leroy Garrett earned his B.A. from Abilene Christian University, a Masters of Theology from Princeton University and his Ph.D. in Philosophy and Religion from Harvard University. He and Carl Ketcherside first met at a debate Carl was conducting in Paragould, Arkansas in 1952. They were close friends and co-workers for 37 years, until Carl’s death in 1989.

In 1959, Leroy Garrett became an advocate for Christian unity among all believers, just as his friend Ketcherside had become in 1957. He edited and published a magazine, Restoration Review, from 1959 to 1992, to spread his views.  

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Photo by Peggy Paregien

2006-1353 Stan - Leroy-Ouida Garrett - Peggy

Dr. Leroy Garrett died at the age of 96 on Sept. 29, 2015 in Denton, Texas, his hometown for 53 years. His body was donated to science. Many of his writings can be found at http:www.leroygarrett.org . Several of his books are still in print.

Garrett, Leroy -- A LOVER'S QUARREL - His autobiography - 2003

 

Garrett, Leroy  --  The Stone-Campbell Movement  - 572 page history

I took a movie (video) of part of one of the speeches which Dr. Leroy Garrett made at the Quail Springs Church of Christ in Oklahoma City in the fall of 2006. It is posted on YouTube. 

_______________________

I wrote scores and scores of articles over the years for a variety of Christian magazines. As far as I can recall, here are the only three that appeared in Leroy Garrett’s magazine, Restoration Review:

The first article for Restoration Review was published when I was a senior at Lipscomb University (aka, back then, as David Lipscomb College) and it appeared in the January, 1965 issue on page 17. Please read the footnote that I added to the article.

Paregien, Stan  --  United We Stand  --  RESTORATION REVIEW - Jan, 1965 - page 17

 

Here is a satirical article I wrote in the summer of 1965. I had just graduated from Lipscomb University with a major in Speech Communication and minors in Bible and History, and I was living in Albuquerque and just about to begin work on my Master’s degree at the University of New Mexico. while still a student at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn. I sent it to Dr. Leroy Garrett and he published it in his Restoration Review magazine, Vol. 7, Number 9, Sept., 1965.

 

HOW TO SUCCEED IN

PARTY POLITICS
by Stan Paregien

 

NOTE: The following suggestions were expressly designed for use by young, inexperienced preachers who are seeking stardom in the Texas-Tennessee brand of party politics. However, one may easily adapt these rules to fit any of the other twenty-four factions in the Restoration Movement.

 

  1. Send reports of your meetings to at least one brotherhood magazine. Needless to say, one should report only the “great” meetings; those with poor “visible results” are better left unpublicized. For as one veteran preacher knowingly commented after several nights of a gospel meeting had gone by with no results, “We’ve got to do better than this. How will it look in “The Old Repliable?”

 While improving your own image, it may also prove to be profitable to mention that “Brother Blank, who is the regular minister at Faithful Church of Christ, is carrying on the work in a fine way.” This tactic is based on the philosophy that “if you scratch his back, he’ll scratch yours,” and it has been found to work quite effectively.

  1. Attend all of the Christian College lectureships you possibly can find time for. Perhaps all that is said at the lectureships will not be especially enlightening or inspiring — perhaps not even consistent — but you don’t have to agree with all that is taught; just don’t let anyone know about your heretical views! Every faithful preacher knows there are two sides to every question: the wrong way and the party’s way. One who dares to rock the party boat may find himself treading water. Besides, most elderships want a regular party man — a “putty” man — and, remember this, a preacher can’t afford to bite the hand that signs his check.
  1. Never fail to send in pictures and copy to one of the brotherhood papers (preferably the one which directs the party machine in your area) for any and everything your congregation does — the more exposure your name gets, the better off you are. This word of warning, however, to the novice: don’t capitalize the word “church” when used as the party title. A monstrous mistake like that would very likely start the faithful brethren wondering whether you have “gone digressive.”
  1. As greener pastures call you from congregation to congregation, always go to a larger church. For the best results, try to end up preaching in Texas or Tennessee and if you can also preach for a congregation located near a Christian College, so much the better. After all, if you are going to work in the Lord’s vineyard, you may as well be in a position to take home a generous share of the grapes.

The only problem you may encounter in this endeavor is the occasional fanatic who will ask why you are preaching to the saved rather than being in a mission area preaching to the lost. Just tell him you think you can do more good where you now work; that will probably hold the questioner until you can formulate a better excuse.

  1. Choose some prominent preacher’s pet project and get behind it. Then push, push, push to make it a glittering success. In this way the brethren will come to associate your name with that of the more widely known preacher, thereby enhancing your stature in their eyes. You may even come to be recognized as a rising star in the Party firmament.
  1. Learn to be a “name dropper.” Ordinary brethren — the laity — will tend to be impressed if they think you are on familiar, friendly terms with the big-name preachers. A young minister elbowing for a place in the sun must keep in mind that the firm foundation upon which the party’s system of preacher promotion rests is this inspired principle: “It’s not WHAT you know; it’s WHO you know.”
  1. Be sure to have your name and picture included in the official preacher’s album, Ministers of Today. After all, what group of elders would be reckless enough to consider hiring a preacher who is not even listed among the approved faithful gospel preachers?
  1. Learn to use the ecclesiastical vocabulary sanctioned by the Party. The uncrowned king of the Party would be most pleased to send you his ex officio definitions if you will send your word list to him, in care of the party paper which he edits.

However, for those who are too busy to do so, we suggest that every aspiring young preacher familiarize himself with these basic words: First, the word “liberal” may be defined as, “That person (or group) who has something or believes in something which we do not have or in which we do not believe.”

Secondly, the word “anti” may be defined as, “That person (or group) who does not have what we have or does not subscribe to what the Bible says (sometimes maliciously called our “interpretation.”

Thirdly, a word which should be applied quite cautiously is the word, “faithful.” It may be defined as, “Any person (or group) which has what we have and believes what we believe, as directed by the party bosses.”

Fourthly, the term “matter of faith” simply refers to anything which WE believe is taught in the Bible. Conversely, a “matter of opinion” is anything which we are not too concerned about, unless someone tries to bind it upon us as being Scriptural.

Any young minister who wants prominence in party politics will probably find it by following the system suggested above. However, numerous feathers in a party cap will hardly be satisfying to one who devoutly desires stars in a heavenly crown.

Happily, there are indications that many consecrated young Christian men are becoming concerned about the obvious inconsistencies between our preaching and our practicing. They are becoming increasingly aware of their ability to secure spiritual emancipation by throwing off the shackles of tradition forged by the Party blacksmiths. They recognize that, as Emerson said in a speech entitled, “The American Scholar,” “The world is his who can see through its pretension. What deafness, what stone-blind custom, what overgrown error you behold is there only by sufferance. See it to be a lie, and you have already dealt it its mortal blow.”

The eyes of many disciples are moist with tears when they reflect upon the broken hearts, confused lives, and lost souls bobbing in the wake left by preachers in their sacred scramble for the chief seats in the synagogue. But, a system which promotes the preaching of “sweet nothings” and practices party politics instead of Christian principles can expect little else — what was it Paul said? Something about sowing and reaping.

It takes courage, humility, faith, and fortitude for a young preacher to turn from the party’s primrose path to the rugged road of reform and restoration. For the young man who chooses spiritual freedom, the future does not promise a prominent pulpit in Nashville, Abilene, Lubbock, or Dallas, as the following lines by an unknown writer suggest:

“Father, where shall I work today?”

And my love flowed warm and free.

Then He pointed me toward a tiny spot

And said, “Tend that for Me.”

I answered quickly, “Oh no, not that!

Why, no one would ever see,

No matter how well my work was done

In that little place for Thee.”

And the word He spoke, it was not stern,

He answered me tenderly:

“Ah, little one, search that heart of thine;

Art thou working for them or Me?

Nazareth was a little place,

And so was Galilee!”

So, the question for the young preacher to ask himself is this: do you want to follow party preachments enshrined in unwritten creeds, or do you desire to freely explore the forgotten frontiers of faith? Have you made your decision? Who is to reign as king in your life — the patron saint of the party, or the Prince of Peace?

[ NOTE:  I confess that my little article, above, written in 1965 is today just a little too satirical for my present tastes. Ah, yes, but that was certainly a different place and time. – SP – Dec. 3, 2015 ]

My article, above, was followed by this one, below, in the next issue of  Restoration Review in Vol. 7, Number 10, 1965.

 

Unity, Unity

 by Stan Paregien

Jeremiah spoke of certain false prophets in his day who were deceiving the people with their prophecies of coming prosperity. The false prophets blinded the eyes of the Israelites with the words, “Peace,  peace!” Jeremiah used four concise words to refute such speculations.  The weeping prophet of God said, “There is no peace.”

Centuries have passed since the days of Jeremiah, and with that flight of years certain changes have been wrought.

First, the cry has been altered. The statement being shouted from  almost every pulpit in the brotherhood is, “Unity, unity!” It would be almost unthinkable for a preacher to hold a meeting and not speak at least one night on “How The Religious World Can Be United,” or  some similar topic. The inference —- usually it is a bold affirmation — is  that the preacher and the church to which he belongs have the key to oneness.

What the unsuspecting visitor doesn’t realize is that there may be two or three other congregations of the same church in the community,  all of which teach the same “plan” for unity —- yet, not one of  these congregations will recognize the other as being “faithful.”

A short investigation would probably reveal that each of these congregations is engaged in a Cold War against the others. They refuse to call on one another for prayer. They often will not even speak to one another. And, if all else fails, they pelt one another with party labels such as, “Liberals,” “Anti’s,” “Digressives,” etc.

There is open division in the body of believers and no one knows it  better than the congregations themselves. But, their preachers have the audacity to extend the invitation with words similar to these: “Why not embrace true Christianity by coming out of denominationalism and becoming a member of the church (little “c”) of Christ?”

The plea is immediately given a rubber-stamped “Amen” from the  “faithful brethren.” Should an individual come forward and be baptized,  he finds himself becoming a member — not of a single united group of brethren, but of a warring faction. It doesn’t take long for the  new member to find, as Dean Swift once said, that “We have just enough religion to make us hate each other.”

Secondly, the modern cry is no longer a prophecy. It has, according to many, became a reality. Unity is no longer spoken of as something for which we must continually strive. Rather, it has already arrived.

Such a careless attitude could only be termed absurd by any person with a passing acquaintance of the present condition of the church. Are we trying to deceive others into believing that we stand completely united, or  are we trying to pull the wool over our own eyes? If your body received a serious slash, what would you do? Would you look the other way and try to pretend that your life-giving blood were not ebbing away? Certainly not!

Then why do we try to stick our heads in the sand when it comes to the cut and bleeding body of Christ? Our strength, our power, and our influence in the world flows like the mighty Amazon — but, like that great river, our power is untamed, undirected, and useless due to our disunity.

The party spirit is the reef upon which the hopes of the Restoration Movement have been shattered. Now is the time for all Christians to pick up the pieces, to regroup our forces, and to begin practicing what we have been preaching. Only then will we experience the blessings that come when brethren dwell together in unity.

____________

I wrote the following article some seven years after the Tulsa Unity Forum. It was published in the Christian Standard magazine.

 

Stan Paregien Sr - A Test of Fellowship - Part A

Stan Paregien Sr - A Test of Fellowship - Part B

 

Dr. Tom Langford

1973-035-TomLangford-Tulsa

Photo by Stan Paregien

Dr. Thomas (“Tom”) Langford and his wife Nell were irenic souls long before the term was popular among our people. I knew them first in Sand Springs, Oklahoma in the late 1950s when my parents and I visited my maternal grandparents (John and Vada Cauthen) and, while there, met with the “Non-Sunday School” congregation. Tom was working on his doctorate in English literature from Texas Christian University. And he preached for a “Non-Sunday School” Church of Christ in Prattville, across the Arkansas River from Sand Springs. I remember, probably in late 1958 when asked a girl there named Janice Larremore for a date and we went to a revival that Tom was conducting in a tent over in Sapulpa.

Dr. Langford was a constant influence for brotherly treatment of all Believers and had a wide impact for Christian unity, not just among the “Non-Sunday school” segment of Christianity. He was a professor of English at Texas Tech University and was, for a time, the Dean of the Graduate School. At Texas Tech he received the Faculty Distinguished Leadership Award, the Graduate English Society’s Award for Distinguished Service, the Master Teacher Award by the College of Education and was a member of the university’s prestigious Teaching Academy. He was also a member and served as president of the Christian Faculty and Staff Association.

His Christian articles covered a wide range of topics, and could frequently be found in such magazines as Glad Tidings, One Body, and The Christian Appeal. The Restoration Forum presented him their Restoration Forum Award for his efforts to promote unity and inducted him into their Unity Hall of Fame. He also helped establish a mission work in Kenya in 1980 which has grown now to include work in Uganda and the Sudan. He was an elder for the Church of Christ (Non-Sunday School) at 1701 S. Quaker Avenue in Lubbock until his death. One of Tom and Nell’s sons, David Langford, has been the preaching minister of that church for a long time. David is a talented writer and is also an author.

2006-1150 Paregiens-Langfords

The Restoration Forum presented Tom Langford with their Restoration Forum Award for his efforts to promote unity and inducted him into their Unity Hall of Fame. He also helped establish a mission work in Kenya in 1980 which has grown now to include work in Uganda and the Sudan.

Dr. Langford was born on Oct. 20, 1930. He died at the age of 77 on May 2, 2008. His wife, Nell, was still living in Lubbock in late 2015.

________________

 

In 1981, eight years after the Tulsa Unity Forum, W. Carl Ketcherside wrote a brief article about that event.

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1973-030--UnityMeeting--program

1973-031--UnityMeeting--TulsaOK--July5

1973-032--UnityMeeting--TulsaOK--July6

 

END.

Issue 306 — The Donald Trump Song

Issue 306      —    The Donald Trump Song  —  Paregien Journal —  Sept. 29, 2015

Gather ’round the campfire, kids of all ages, and I’ll tell you a tale.

You see, folks, there was this time out in the wild lands of “The Land of Enchantment” (also known as New Mexico) a young feller and his beautiful, young wife did some serious praying. They wanted to expand their family from dos (just the two of them) to tres o mas (three or more). So they snuggled up real close on some of those cold nights in Albuquerque. And on one very hot day in a hospital in Las Cruces (The Crosses) they had themselves a boy child.

1966-046 Poem-GodBlessYouMySon

Now, reckon what they named the little feller? No, it wasn’t George. Not Pedro. Not Barak or Gladamir or Tex. Nope. The little lady deferred to her creative husband and they named the innocent and unsuspecting blue-eyed, blond-haired baby . . . Stanley Eugene Paregien, Jr., but they called him “Gene.” That was way back just after the ancient oceans had receded from New Mexico and left it mainly high and dry. The day was September 30th. And that, friends and neighbors, is how Peggy and I entered the mysterious, frustrating, enchanting realm of parenthood.

1966-036-B --Stan - Peg Pargien -- Stan Jr -- LasCruces

Okay, I said all of that so Peggy and I can say this: Happy birthday to our favorite son (also our only son), Gene Paregien, known better after high school as Stan Paregien. Junior, that is. We love you a bunch.

1807 -- 2015--08--01 B11 Holmes Beach, FL -- Stan Jr, Bailee, Dom - by P Paregien

Another Great Country Singer Passes

Those of us who are members of OTDC (Older Than Dirt Club) fondly remember the wonderful harmony of a trio of singers called “The Browns.” That was Jim Ed Brown (baritone) and his sisters, Maxine Brown (alto) and Bonnie Brown (soprano). There was a brief note in our local newspaper (I used the term loosely) today that Bonnie Brown of Dardanelle, AR is in the final stage of lung cancer and that, . . . oh by the way, . . . Jim Ed Brown died of cancer back in June. Never heard a word about his passing.

So I found Jim Ed Brown’s official web site at:  http://www.jimedbrown.com/ .  

It was Maxine Brown who sorta pushed her handsome brother, Jim Ed, into show biz in Little Rock. Before long, she joined him on stage. And in 1954 Jim Ed and Maxine became part of the hugely popular “Louisiana Hayride” radio broadcast in Shreveport, Louisiana. That same year their catchy song, “Looking Back to See,” hit Number 8 on the country chart, and they were off and running fast. Sister Bonnie made it a family trio in 1955. 

The Browns -- Maxine, Jim Ed and Bonnie - he died June 11, 2015

It 1959 they made recording history when “The Three Bells” (also known as “The Chapel Bells Were Ringing”) crossed all kinds of music borders. You may watch them sing that song from a 1963 TV video now posted on YouTube [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTkbj56bnYs and then, just for old times sake, watch as senior citizens Maxine, Bonnie and Jim Ed sing the song in about 2008 at: https://youtu.be/EoU_Od2nJj0 . Still mighty nice.]. Their fabulous three-part harmony rocketed the song to Number 1 on the Country chart, Number 1 on the Pop chart and Number 10 on the Rhythm & Blues chart. The trio became members of the Grand Ole Opry cast in 1963, but just four years later broke up.

Jim Ed Brown continued to perform solo. He had a hit with “Pop-a-Top,” . . . but it just wasn’t the same. Then in 1976 he had the good fortune of forming a duet with golden throated Helen Cornelius. They had a Number 1 Country hit with “I Don’t Want to Have to Marry You.” [ Watch them sing that song 32 years later, in 2008, in a TV video posted on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFpcR3GvmVc .]   And in 1977 they were named the Country Music Association’s Duet of the Year.

Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius -- 2

Many years later, in the late 1980s, I got to do a phone interview with Helen Cornelius. She was in her home in Nashville and I was in our studio at KSNY Radio in Snyder, Texas. She was a very personable and talented lady.

On March 25, 2015, the CMA organization announced they would induct Jim Ed Brown and The Browns into the County Music Hall of Fame in Nashville later in the year. Unfortunately, the melodious Jim Ed Brown died of lung cancer on June 11, 2015. He was 81 years of age.

The Trump

The other night I watched as Donald Trump held court in another of his “Ain’t I Just Great!” interviews. His Highness, the only multi-billionaire in the contest to become the Republican party’s candidate for president, chants his matra that he alone has the business acumen to save we commoners. Not surprisingly, that is also the theme song being sung by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She would have us believe that, as a multi-millionaire, she knows the pain of the working class and if we elect her she will set all things right. My guess is she lies about other things, too.

But I digress.

Mr. Trump bangs his big drum — thump, thump, thump — for his favorite person. Himself. And that reminded me of a very old song that might work well for his campaign. It is, “I Love Me, I Love Me, I’m Wild About Myself.”  

I Love Me, I Love Me, I'm Wild About My Self -- 1922 - Jack Haley and Will Mahoney--Page 1

I Love Me, I Love Me, I'm Wild About My Self -- 1922 - Jack Haley and Will Mahoney--Page 2

2039 -- 2015--09--24 Snook, TX - Stacy Paregien Magness and hubby John - 25th Anniv

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

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

They were a beautiful couple back in 1990, and they still are. Congratulations to Stacy and John, “The Magness Team.”

2017-B -- 2015--09--05 Sarasota, FL - Landes 50th Anniversary -- Clay Landes and Pat -- by Stan Paregien

We got to share this great moment with friends Clay and Pat Landes back on Sept. 5th., in celebration of their 50th anniversary. Amazingly, Clay’s parents back in Indiana recently celebrated their 75th anniversary. Wow. 

2035 -- 2015--09--23 Bradenton, FL - Smiths - Karin - Jean Pendergrass

We have known Jean Pendergrass (right; lives in Venice) for over two years. She marches to the beat of three different drummers, all at once and while chewing bubblegum. She is a super-nice and a super-active Christian lady. She and her new friend Karin (to her right) of Jamaica came for lunch at our home last week. Joining the party were new residents of Venice, Dr. and Mrs. Brian (Ruth) Smith, M.D..  Brian and Ruth (a retired R.N.) met in Africa while on their own respective Christian medical missions, and Africa is where they were married. They moved here from McAllen, Texas, where he served as an elder in their local church for the last 15 years or so.

Muslim Logic -- posted on the internet in 2015

Reynolds, Lisa -- The Hanukkah Stomp - REMINISCE, Dec-Jan, 2013, page 58

Logo -- Plantation Grove Notes -- 01

These next few items may be of particular interest to the residents in Plantation Grove Mobile Home Park, where Peggy and I hang our straw hats. 

2036 -- 2015--09--24 Ed Hutchinson and Stan Paregien by Virginia Corbin

Here are the birthday folks for October that I know about here in Plantation Grove Mobile Home Park:

Stan Paregien (2nd), Kent Abel (5th), Keith Carsen (10th), Peggy Paregien (13th), Holly Woolums (15th), Elaine Chartier, Ray Chartier, and Rick Dorricott.

2038 -- 2015--09--23 Peggy Paregien's 'Poopmobile'

As we say down here in Paradise, into each life some poop . . . er, I mean . . . some rain must fall. And we have had a lot of it (rain, that is) this summer and now into the start of fall. The best days are coming up fast, though, as we get slightly cooler days and less rain and more sunshine. Ah, yes, now I remember why we moved down here.

— END.

Issue 284 — Our Trip to California

Issue 284    —    The Paregien Journal    —    June 13, 2014

Our Trip to California

by Stan Paregien Sr.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Peggy and I flew west on Monday, May 12, 2014. We flew from Tampa, Florida to Houston, where we stopped but did not get off. We continued on to Los Angels International, where we did change planes. For about two hours we got to watch the crowded zoo of late/early/stranded passengers milling around. We got on our plane, okay, and continued on to Sacramento.

We arrived at Ione, California (35ish miles southeast of Sacramento) about 3 pm. We got to visit with my only sibling, my sister Roberta P. Fournier, who is two years younger than I. A heavy smoker for most of her life, she had to give the cancer sticks up when she found it harder and harder to breathe, even being on oxygen 24-hours per day. She has come close to dying several times since about 2007, so we feel that each day is a real bonus day for her.

Roberta, known better to me as “Bert” or “Berta,” lives with her younger son, Brad Loffswold, and his family. She is basically confined to the house, except for an occasional mandatory visit to one of her doctors and a rare trip out to a restaurant or such. On those occasions, she has to be pushed in a wheel chair as any walking quickly saps her energy and breath. So she depends a lot on her computer as a way of keeping in touch with friends and family. But there are days, due to rheumatoid arthritis in her fingers, when she is in too much pain to even use the keyboard.

After Brad’s family arrived, we loaded up in two cars and drove to the old gold-mining town of Jackson. It is at the base of the Sierra Nevadas and the terrain always reminds me of those scenes in the TV western “Big Valley,” with rolling hills and lush open range and lots of big oak trees. This time, though, the lack of rain had parched the grass and made prime material for a fire. Roberta and her late husband, Norm Fournier, ran a used record shop (and fan store) on Main Street in Jackson for many years. Even yet, you can ask her anything about records from 1940 to 1975 or so and she can recite book, chapter and verse about it. With me, though, when I hear one of those songs about all I can say is, “Gee, that song by whoever it is kinda sounds familiar, maybe.”

Anyway, we ate supper at “Mel’s Diner” in Jackson. We have eaten there several times in the past. Whether breakfast (which they serve all day), lunch or dinner, they set a fine meal with excellent service. I’m sorry, but when I go there I keep waiting for ol’ Flo (the waitress in the very old TV comedy, “Mel’s Diner”) to strut through the door, yelling back at Mel in the kitchen, “Well, just kiss my grits!!” Ah, that was my kind of sophistical humor and I miss it.

Roberta wanted to go to Mel’s Diner for one particular menu item: a great big chocolate sundae. If I’m lyin,’ I’m dyin’. She and our late mom often went to the local Indian casino for their terrific buffet. And the two of them always started at the important end: the desert bar. So tonight the sundae was her meal. And, what the hey, I was glad to see her enjoy it so much.

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Peggy and I usually stay up in the foothills at the Sutter Creek Days Inn in Sutter Creek, Calif. They have a decent continental breakfast, the staff are always helpful and the rooms clean and the environment quiet. The only drawbacks to that arrangement are the rooms do not have microwaves and no pool . . . and not even a single computer for guests. It is a very small former gold-mining town, but they draw lots and lots of tourists–especially on the weekends and holidays. And the roads in most of the area are narrow, winding and up and down the hills–so it is easy to get locked behind any slow driver.

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One of a half-dozen or so stone carvings in a car-sized plot of land on the south end of town.

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The above building was the Western terminus of the famous, but short-lived, pony express which carried mail between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacrament, California in what was in that day a record quick time.

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Well, friends, that’s a wrap for this post. Hope you enjoyed the photos.

Oh, hey, one more thing: I am now juggling three different blogs. This one, “The Paregien Journal,” plus my “Stan’s Paradise Report” about live in Florida, plus my newly resurrected blog, “The Cowboy Way: Then and Now.” That third one will feature stories, poems and photos about the Old West and the New West and the people in each. I just posted information about and dozens of photos of the 1987 convention of the Western Writers of America. You may see photos there of your favorite Western historian or novelist.

So when you finish this blog, I invite you to mosey over to the others to see what is new.

–Stan

Issue 282 – Herb Jeffries, Cowboy Movie Star

Issue 282   —    The Paregien Journal  —  May 29, 2014

Herb Jeffries, Cowboy Movie Star

and Singer

by Stan Paregien

Copyrighted May 29, 2014

Official U.S. Census records from 1920 show actor and singer Herb Jeffries was born Umberto Alejandro Balentino on Sept. 24, 1914 in Detroit, Mich. His father was one Mr. Howard Jeffrey. Jeffries died at the age of 100 (or nearly so) on May 25, 2014 in a hospital in Los Angeles. The cause of death was listed as heart failure.

Jeffries often described his mother as “100% white and Irish.” However, the father he never knew he described as part Sicilian, part Irish, part French, part Italian and part Ethiopian (African), accounting for his being able to pass as a black man and, sometimes, as a white man. He was black enough (sometimes aided by dark makeup) to be hired by some of the best black bands and orchestras. He sometimes privately joked he was only “3/8’s black.”

He said that he chose to be identified as a black man, largely because a white man would not have been hired to play with the big-name black bands and orchestras of the day. Reverse discrimination, don’t you know? Ironically, on each of his four or five marriage certificates he listed his race as “Caucasian.” All of his wives were white women.

The charismatic Jeffries started out his career using the name “Herb Jeffrey,” the last name being that of his father. He moved to Chicago as a teenager and began by singing for Earl “Fatha” Hines and his orchestra. That was from 1931 to 1934. From there it was on to Los Angeles .

Then, blessed with a handsome face, a tall (6′ 2″) and muscular physique, and a robust baritone voice, Jeffries became the star of four Westerns movies between 1937 and 1939. He was a lover of the Old West stories and the popular white cowboy stars such as Tom Mix, Buck Jones and William S. Hart. It was his dream to create cowboy movies for black people, so he sought out someone to produce them.

He found a white man named Jed Buell, an independent producer of B-movies (the ones which received second billing at theaters). Jeffries saw Buell’s unusual movie, “The Terror of Tiny Town,” a Western spoof with a cast made up entirely of “height challenged” actors (little people). So he found Buell and made a deal.

For those low-budget films, Buell had Jeffries apply dark makeup to cover up his light complexion. That was to insure he would be accepted by black audiences, as the black cowboy films were only distributed to black movie theaters.

Jeffries, Herb - as black singing cowboy in 1930s

In those Westerns, Herb Jeffries (listed as Jeffrey) played a cowboy named “Bob Blake” and rode a horse named “Stardusk.” He was flanked by a singing group called “The Four Tones” and his comical pard was a black actor named Mantan Moreland. Jeffries was billed as “The Bronze Buckeroo” in the films named “Harlem Rides the Range (1939),” “The Bronze Buckaroo,” “Two-Gun Man from Harlem” and “Harlem on the Prairie.” That last film was actually a musical. Those films are now available on a DVD titled, “Treasures of Black Cinema.”

Or you may view some not-such-good-quality copies on YouTube such as:

Jeffries, Herb - movie poster 'Harlem Rides the Range'

(1) Harlem Rides the Range – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lQFxvcr31Y’

Jeffries, Herb - movie poster, 'Two-Gun Man from Harlem'

(2) Two-Gun Man from Harlem – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4D96gvWk6lE

Jeffries, Herb - movie poster, 'The Bronze Buckaroo'

(3) The Bronze Buckeroo” (1939) – pretty good vocal quality with fair visuals.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvPlB-j0mOc

Later in his life, Herb Jeffries is quoted was having said: “The word ‘black’ means ‘a void,’ so I have never seen a black man. The word ‘white’ means ‘lack of pigment,’ so I have never seen a white man either. There’s only one race: the human race.”

Jeffries quickly moved on to establish a solid career as a jazz and pop singer, mainly with black bands both in the United States and in France. He worked for famed black band leader Duke Ellington for ten years. In 1941 he had a big hit with the song, “Flamingo.” It became Herb Jeffries’ signature song, and eventually it sold over 14 million copies and gave him a steady stream of income.

He sometimes told interviewers, “Most people come to this world by stork. I came by Flamingo, and Duke Ellington delivered me.”

Other Jeffries hits included “You, You Darlin’,” “In My Solitude,” “When I Write My Song,” “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good,” and “There Shall Be No Night.”

It should be noted that this man’s stage name until 1941 was Herb Jeffrey, after his father Howard Jeffrey. Then a clerical error listed the singer on the smash hit “Flamingo” as “Herb Jeffries.” Rather than fight to get it corrected, Umberto Balentino (aka Herb Jeffrey) just went with the flow and adopted “Jeffries” as his new last name.

The actor and singer took a career detour when he served in the military during World War II. After that, he had hit songs with “Basin Street Blues” and with “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano.”

You may watch a nice film on YouTube of Jeffries singing several songs, including “Basin Street Blues,” “Baby, Come on Home,” “Night,” and “Solitude” at this location: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHaCKPTIl90.

Try this little experiment: show the above clip to a few folks and ask them what they think his nationality is. I think most would be hard pressed to identify him as black.

Jeffries moved to France in the late 1940s and remained there several years, appearing in many different clubs and actually owning at least two of them. He returned to the United States in the 1950s.

Album cover for 'Jamaica' - Herb Jeffries - 1957

Jeffries liked diversity as a singer and performing. So he wrote a series of calypso songs which was produced by RKO as a record album titled, “Jamaica.”

Jeffries, Herb - movie poster, 'Calypso Joe'

And he was in a romantic musical film, “Calypso Joe,” with Angie Dickinson in 1957. He and his band were given credits as “Herb Jeffries and his Calypsomaniacs.”

In 1996 he played himself in “The Cherokee Kid,” a Western spoof. He also made brief appearances on such TV shows as “Hawaii Five-O,” “I Dream of Jeannie,” and “The Virginian.”

Herb Jeffries often told interviewers he didn’t believe age should be a factor in one’s career or personal life. He backed that up by marrying a series of five beautiful white women. His second wife was a well-known stripper with the stage name of Tempest Storm. And his last wife/significant other, Savannah Shippen, was a mere 45 years his junior. He was still touring and singing up to his early 90’s.

Jeffries, Herb - 1995 CD cover, 'The Bronze Buckeroo Rides Again'

He returned to his early cowboy roots in 1995 when he released his Western CD, “The Bronze Buckaroo (Rides Again)” on the Warner Western label. He also recorded a duet in which he and folksinger and cowboy singer Michael Martin Murphy sang a catchy little song called, “Payday Blues.”

Jeffries was honored in 1997 by his induction into the Hall of Fame of the Western Music Association. And in 2001 he was inducted into the “Walk of Western Stars” at Newhall, California.

In the spring of 2004, Herb Jeffries attended the annual “Wrangler Awards” ceremony at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. He himself was inducted into the “Western Performers Hall of Fame” that night. And Peggy and I were there to see him receive it and to meet him.

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Stan & Peggy Paregien with singer/movie star Herb Jeffries in 2004

2004-029

Herb Jeffries, left, in 2004 as he was inducted into the “Western Performers Hall of Fame” in Oklahoma City. At right is Buck Taylor who played “Newly” on the TV Western series, “Gunsmoke.” Taylor is the son of the later Western comic and actor Dub “Cannonball” Taylor. [Photo by Stan Paregien]

2004--Sept 24 - Herb Jeffries, 93, and wife Savannah, with star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

At the age of 93, Herb Jeffries attended the formal celebration of the installation of his own “star” on the famous Hollywood Walk of Stars on a stretch of several blocks of sidewalks in Hollywood, Calif.

For several years, he and mate Savannah lived in Wichita, Kansas. Carl Brewer, the mayor of Wichita, issued a proclamation making September 13, 2012 as “Herb Jeffries Day” in that city. The local city/county museum celebrated his long career by hosting several events. He died at the West Hills Hospital & Medical Center in San Fernando, California, near his last home which was in Woodland Hills, California. He was the last surviving member of The Duke Ellington Orchestra.

Herb Jeffries was the Alpha and the Omega of black singing cowboy movie stars. He was fiercely proud of the fact that he was “the very first black singing cowboy on the face of this earth.” He probably would have also expressed deep satisfaction that he was also the very last of the early-day black singing cowboy movie stars. It is unlikely we will see a man quite like him again.

___________________

Sources:

“A Colored Life: The Herb Jeffries Story.” A promotional clip by AMS Pictures Original Programming on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkMSZJKmrek

Barnes, Mike. “Herb Jeffries, Pioneering Black Singing Cowboy of the Movies, Dies at 100.” The Hollywood Reporter (online version). May 25, 2014.

“Herb Jeffries’s Biography.” Internet Movie Data Base: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0420370/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm.

“Herb Jeffries, in Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia.

Herndon, Jessica. “African-American cowboy crooner Herb Jeffries dies.” Chron, the online version of the Houston Chronicle. May 26, 2014.

Jeffries, Herb. “Colored Life: The Herb Jeffries Story.” 52 min. DVD.

http://www.amazon.com/Colored-Life-Herb-Jeffries-Story/dp/B001EBBYM2

Released in 2007.

Jeffries, Herb. “Flamingo” with Duke Ellington in 1941. A film clip found at:

Jeffries, Herb. “Flamingo” performed on a tropical set. Undated. YouTube:

Jeffries, Herb. “I’m A Happy Cowboy.” Recording from 1938 posted on YouTube:

Jeffries, Herb and Michael Martin Murphey. “Payday Blues” recording posted on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV_9jqZw1_c

Stedman, Alex. “Herb Jeffries, Star of Black Cowboy Films, Dies at 100.” Variety (online version), May 26, 2014.

“Wichitans remember cowboy actor, singer Herb Jeffries.” Staff report at Kansas.com, the online version of The Wichita (Kansas) Eagle. May 27, 2014.

Yardley, William. Herb Jeffries, “‘Bronze Buckaroo’ of Song and Screen, Dies at 100 (or So).” The New York Times (online version), May 26, 2014.

Issue 281 – Photos from 1959, Part 04

Issue 281    —    The Paregien Journal    —    May 10, 2014

Photos from 1959 (Part 4)

by Stan Paregien Sr.

 This is the final installment of “1959–Photos from 55 Years Ago.”

I hope you will enjoy this last ride through the memories of my youth.

That Vintage Year of 1959
a poem by Stan Paregien

I woke up on that New Years Day in 1959
At our farm house surrounded by trees.
And I’m sure, in sunny Piru, California then
My mom’s garden was filled with bees.

2010--2317--B  PiruCA---EdwardsRanch-looking--at-our-house----SP

I took this photo (looking north) in 2010 of where my parents lived on the Samuel Edwards Ranch in Piru, Calif., for over 20 years. The house and garage, now green, were white until some time after my parents moved into Fillmore in the 1970s. And there were several large shade trees around it. This was, indeed, a quiet and relaxing place to live. The huge orchard of orange trees which once stood to the front of our house (south) is now complete gone.

There was an assumed and so very natural
Feeling of love and safety in that place.
There were no protestors or demonstrators
Violating your valued personal space.

My sister, Roberta, and I were awfully lucky
To have friends and relatives nearby
Who were quick to hug us when we hurt
And to share happiness with a high-five.

1959-092--EvelynParegien-cafeteriaStaff

Our mother, Evelyn, was a cafeteria manager
At Piru and Fillmore elementary schools.
Both by personality and her own drive,
She excelled using her God-given tools.

1960-070--B  Harold Paregien-on-tractor--PiruCA

In 1959 our father, Harold, had barely begun
His farm labor work on Samuel Edwards Ranch.
He was kind of a moody man with simple tastes
Who irrigated and trimmed many an orange branch.

On January 3rd Alaska became our 49th state
And ol’ Clint debuted with “Rawhide” on Jan. 9.
And he was supported by Sheb Wooley playing
Cowhand Pete Nolan, a role he did just fine.

My pal Shorty Williams and I took our girlfriends
To the Santa Paula Drive-In but it was so foggy
We couldn’t see the movie screen; but we stayed
And necked so long and hard it made us groggy.

Then came that awful snowy February 3rd day in
Iowa when three singers died at the same time.
Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and “The Big Bopper”
Died in a plane crash, killed in their very prime.

Life, we learned, does go on and by February 9th
“Charlie Brown” by The Coasters peaked at #2.
And I took a girl named Judy to a Hawaiian dance,
Where across the floor we kinda, sorta flew.

1959--317  Fillmore, CA - Gloria Casas            1957-075   Piru, CA -- Elaine Campbell

Gloria Casas           –        Elaine Campbell

In the spring our chorus performed one week night,
And afterwards Gloria Casas and I had a date.
We drove around and at a stop light in Santa Paula
Faced my ex, Elaine, as preordained by fate.

Way down yonder in Cuba on February 16th
Fidel Castro christened himself the Big Dog.
Meanwhile, the new “Barbie Doll” came out
And sold 800 million like rolling off a log.

1959--318  Fillmore, CA -  Charles Mozley

My civics teacher, Charles Mozley, was funny
And had one brown eye and the other one blue.
He often said, “I can stand anything at all but
Pain and temptation,” and that leaves little new.

Well, our little church was without a preacher man,
So I filled in when a real sub could not be found.
And by mid-spring I was actually looking to go off
To some ministerial school when fall came ’round.

Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon confirmed
What we teenagers knew: “Some Like It Hot.”
And boxer Floyd Patterson won his big title by
Beating champion Brian London slicker’n snot.

Several of us ditched school to go down in the
Piru Creek to watch Tony Curtis put on an act,
For he was filming the movie “The Defiant Ones,”
But we got caught playing hooky and that is a fact.

1959 was the 75th anniversary of Fillmore town,
So the “old-time look” themed our yearbook,
And in 1900s-type clothes many of us met for
Photos at Barnsdall’s every cranny and nook.

The very first Grammy Awards came out May 4,
With Perry Como and Ella Fitzgerald on top.
Bob Zimmerman up in Minnesota graduated in ’59,
But you know him as Bob Dylan with a hairy mop.

On May 8th, I took Judy to the Festival Coronation,
Where Nancy Brooks was named the Queen.
We left that ceremony in favor of Kenny’s Grove,
After all, I was a typical boy and only seventeen.

Next came my initiation into the Letterman’s Club,
An honor that all young men strived to achieve.
However, our inductors tortured us and beat us,
And dumped us into a pool for fun, don’t you see?

Our “Senior Ditch Day” took us by bus to L.A.,
To Knott’s Berry Farm and the new Disneyland.
We guys did not venture onto many fast rides,
But we chased the girls around to beat the band.

1959--314  Anaheim, CA - Disneyland -- Fillmore Class of 59 'Ditch Day'

SENIOR DITCH DAY: Sue Vest, Linda Burke, Mary Shipley, Judy Greer, Diana Hunter, Janet McDowell, Patsy Campbell,  Martha White, Glenda Gregory, Susie Warring, and Mary Ann Steppler. As of May 1, 2014, I am aware of the deaths of Mary Shipley Real, Judy Greer Segler, Diana Hunter and Susie Warring Pennington.

1959-033 StanParegien-hunting - Copy

On the morning of our graduation, I borrowed my parents’ 1957 Pontiac and drove to Fillmore and picked up my buddy Orbie Ingersoll. He took his .22 rifle and I took my Remington pump .22 rifle and we went big game hunting. Well, sorta. All we shot was this hawk (I think) and a few more unlucky assorted birds. After we cooked the hawk and ate it, we both agreed that it really wasn’t bad. It tasted like, well, . . . the taste was sorta between that of a California Condor and a Bald Eagle.

Okay, okay. Lighten up. It is a joke.  

On June 11th we all graduated from ol’ FUHS,

And I took Judy to the all-night party time.

That was a big turning point in our young lives
And to leave all that behind seemed like a crime.

The next day Judy and I met Garland and Barbara,

Shorty and Roberta, Duane and Paula at the sea.

We never got in the water but blistered in the sun
And accomplished our simple mission successfully.

That evening my family left for Tulsa, Oklahoma,
Via the Grand Canyon and old cowtown Fort Worth.
We also stopped at Madill to visit “Paregiens 5 & 10,”
Owned by Arbun and Mable, cousins of dad by birth.

1959-040 EvelynParegien-Harold--GrandCanyon

It took us many years of begging, but my father finally gave in and drove us by the beautiful Grand Canyon on our trip east.

1959-041 RobertaParegien-Stan GrandCanyon

Roberta and Stan at the Grand Canyon in the summer of 1959

1959-283--RobertaParegien--Stan---NewMexico

Siblings Roberta & Stan Paregien in 1959, entering New Mexico

1959-095--SidneyCauthenFamily

1959-093--DianaCauthen-Melvin-Paul-Reggie

1959-042--E--B-58HustlerBomber

My maternal uncle, Sidney Cauthen, worked at Convair in Fort Worth, Texas as an electrician. He and several other men were working on one of these “B-58 Hustler” bombers when something caused it to instantly catch fire. Two or three men died at the scene, while two or three other men–including my uncle–were badly burned and sent to the hospital.

1959-042--F--SidneyCauthen--hospital

1959-042--M--Paregien-Cauthen FtWorth

Fort Worth, TX: Seating are Stan Paregien and his sister Robert. Standing, l to r, are Harold and Evelyn Paregien with her parents Vada (Walters) and John Cauthen.

1959-049 StanParegien-Harold-JohnCauthen

Fort Worth, TX: Stan Paregien and his father, Harold, with Harold’s father-in-law (Stan’s maternal grandfather) John Cauthen

1959-046 VadaCauthen-John-FtWorth

 Vada (Walters) and John Cauthen at the home of their injured son, Sidney Cauthen, in Fort Worth, Texas in the summer of 1959.

1959-155 JohnCauthen-RobertaParegien

Roberta Paregien with our maternal grandfather, John Whitehead Cauthen, as we were leaving Texas and just crossed the Red River into Oklahoma (near Thackerville).

1959-150 ParegienStore-MadillOK

“Paregien’s 5 & 10 Cent Store” on the southwest side of the town square in Madill, Oklahoma. It was owned and run by Arbun and Mable Paregien, with help from his sisters Opal and Ivy Paregien. That is myself and my sister Roberta at the far left.

In Tulsa my cousin Sonny and I went out to the

Bells Amusement Park to kick around the place.
Instead, I met Pasty Bell–daughter of the owner–
And spent my time admiring her lovely face.

1959-154 Paregien-Cauthen TulsaOK

Tulsa, OK: Opal (Cauthen) Radtke with Diana Cauthen; Harold and Evelyn Paregien with Rhonda Cauthen on her lap; John and Vada (Walters) Cauthen, and Johnnie and Ethel Cauthen — parents of the children, Diana and Rhonda.

However, at my grandparent’s church on June 21,
I met a cutie named Janice who was real sweet.
She and I in time became sweethearts and then,
Back to old friends who sometimes email or Tweet.

Along about June 22nd came those great Coasters
With “Along Came Jones” peaking at Number 9.
Earl K. Long, Governor of Louisiana was declared nuts,
But he promptly kicked the hospital folk’s butts.

1959-017 Group-VenturaBeach

Early in the summer Shorty, Mike, Anne, Janet and I
All frolicked in the surf and on the Rincon beach.
It was a time of good-natured, mostly carefree fun
And we savored it like a sweet Georgia peach.

On July 14, I bought my first car–a 1955 Mercury
Which had a standard shift and that’s about all.
Still, I polished and shined that ebony baby often
‘Cause in it I was traveling wide and having a ball.

1959-047--StanParegien- 55Mercury - Copy

Then there was the time sometime in good ol’ summer of 1959

When Shorty Williams, Mike Amey and I went up Sespe Creek.

We soon shed all of our clothes (except at photo time) on the bank,

With no absolutely no one around to sneak a little peek.

1959-020 StanParegien-SespeCreek

Stan Paregien–weighing in at a trim 155 pounds, at Sespe Creek north of Fillmore, Calif., in 1959.

1959-019 StanParegien SespeCreek

Stan Paregien

1959-021 FerrellWilliams-SespeCreek

Ferrill “Shorty” Williams

I remember dating a local girl, Janice, a few times
That summer before I went off to preacher school.
She had her hair cut short and was cute as a bug,
And we went to the Drive-In movies as a rule.

On Sept. 15, there was an very odd turn of events when
I took Judy and her little kid brother to the movie show.
It was a long night because the kid, not Judy, sat in my lap
And Judy just sat smiling at me with the kid in tow.

Hawaii became the 50th state of the good ol’ USA,
But we were focused on the new “Bonanza” TV show.
Meanwhile, Dr. Leakey found the oldest human skull,
And it even looked like a couple of guys I know.

Late in September, off to the Amarillo Bible Work;
I went in my sparkling black ’55 Mercury car.
It was quite an adventure, getting there and back,
‘Cause I had never by myself ever driven that far.

1959-051--B--AmarilloBibleSch

I stayed in a boarding house on the near north side,
Run by the H.C. Chandler family.
They were awful good Christian folks who provided
Food and fellowship to guys like me.

1960-020--F2   HL Gipson and Stan Paregien -- ABTW---ImperialsCarClub

Herbert L. Gipson & Stan Paregien in 1960            

1960--079--TX--Amarillo--GB Shelburne Jr -- Portrait

G.B. Shelburne Jr. (portrait)

There at the Amarillo Bible School I studied Bible
Under Herbert Gipson and G.B. Shelburne , Jr.
They were dedicated, learned men of the Word
So it was a pleasure to learn more and more.

1959-256--Hi-D-Ho-DriveIn---AmarilloTX

1959-254--SagebrushInn--AmarilloTX

After our evening Bible classes, maybe a dozen young men and women would reassemble at the Sagebrush Inn Cafe for refreshments. Often, we would start singing gospel songs because we were actually all pretty good singers. And it was not unusual for the other customers to applaud this spontaneous singing.

1959-286--TwigsDriveIn---AmarilloTX--burned-down-2010

I used to hang out at Twigg’s Drive In on the near north side of Amarillo. 

That is when I came under the siren spell of Carolyn,
A Texan with a pretty face and a warm smile.
We dated frequently, but not exclusively, back then
But there was no talk of walking down the aisle.

I quietly celebrated my 18th birthday in Amarillo,
And Janice wrote she was going steady with a guy.
So I turned all of my interest toward this Carolyn,
Only for her to say, “Before I’ll go steady, I’ll die.”

Life in 1959 was not all roses and California sunshine,
‘Cause deejay Alan Freed took payola and was gigged.
Then brainy Charles Van Doren confessed his sins,
That “21,” the TV quiz show, was dishonestly rigged.

Also, on Nov. 6th, my mother’s brother Sidney Cauthen
Died in Fort Worth from his burns on May 14.
He was an electrician on the B-58 Hustler Bomber
When it caught fire and he had nearly died at the scene.

There was this quite awkward moment at the ABW
Thanksgiving Seminar when I was double-booked.
The understanding was that I would take Carolyn,
But Janice from Tulsa showed up and I was hooked.

The Everly Brothers recorded on December 15th
“Let It Be Me,” another song destined to be a hit.
Still, just singing that romantic song to a pretty girl
Never did really help us score, we have to admit.

I spent Christmas vacation at the Tulsa house of my
Grandparents, John and Vada Cauthen, in Oklahoma.
And, sure enough, I dated Janice all during Christmas time,
So the vintage year of 1959 ended with a pleasant aroma.

1959 had been the most exciting, perplexing, challenging
Period in this ol’ country boy’s sheltered young life.
Little did I know, of course, that the next fifty-plus years
Would be similarly filled with peace, joy and some strife.

Fact is, though, that for each of us there is a rhythm
In life to which we must adjust so we can do our best.
And here’s hoping for all of you–and also for aging me–
We will pass with flying colors each and every test.

[COPYRIGHT NOTICE: This poem, Stan Paregien’s
368th, was completed on May 8, 2014. It is copyrighted
and all rights reserved. Permission is hereby given to copy
without altering any of the text–but not for monetary gain,
subject to inclusion of this copyright notice in its entirety.
Any commercial use requires written permission from
Stan Paregien at 1127 48th Avenue East, Bradenton, FL 34203.]

Other photos from 1959

1959-271--RoyGrover-RonGolson-PiruCA

 Roy Grover and Ron Golson, original members of the Piru Mafia. That was a little joke I used about all of us guys who grew up in the Piru area. Interestingly, folks, today in Los Angeles there really is a gang known as “The Piru Mafia.” Where and how it started I have no idea, except these two gentle souls had nothing to do with it.

1959-281--ALL--TimAllen--CubScout----VenturaCA

Peggy (Allen) Paregien’s brother, Tim Allen in Ventura, Calif.

1959-278--ALL--TimAllen--dog--Blondie---VenturaCA

Tim Allen and dog

1959-273--ALL--TimAllen--VenturaCA

Tim Allen

1959-276--ALL--PeggyAllen--Tim--VenturaCA

Peggy Allen (Paregien) in 1959 with her little brother Tim in Ventura.

1959-279--ALL--WoodyAllenFamily---VenturaCA

 Charlotte (Allen) Gardner & son Terry; Paula Allen; child Tim Allen; W.W. (“Woody”) Allen & wife Pauline (Meador) and Peggy Allen in 1959 in Ventura, Calif.

1959-277--ALL--MelodyMenQuartet

“The Melody Men Quartet” in Ventura, Calif., in 1959. Left to right: W.W. (“Woody”) Allen, Archie Luper (founder of the “Looper’s” restaurants and motels), Richard (“Dick”) Hood (groceryman in Fillmore and Ventura; long-time elder in Ventura), and Tom Harris, who preached for the Church of Christ in Camarillo, Calif. 

1959-158 RalphDowney-Celestine  PiruCA

Ralph and Celestine Downey are shown in the home of Harold & Evelyn Paregien in Piru, California in 1959. Ralph at that time was a salesman for the Pontiac dealership in nearby Fillmore and was the preacher for the local congregation of the Church of Christ. He baptized me, my sister Roberta and (a few years later) our father, Harold. He had a booming bass voice. And in combination with soprano Irene Horn, they could make the church rafters shake.

1959-146 StanParegien-RogerParegien--PiruCA

These “cool dudes” were me and my cousin Roger Paregien in 1959 at my parents’ house in Piru. He and his brothers Danny and Bobby graduated from high school in Bakersfield, and all were involved in the high school wrestling programs. They were the sons of Bueford and Theada (Clifford) Paregien.

1959-145 RobertaParegien-Mickey

This is my sister Roberta Paregien and our dog “Mickey” on the steps of the house one mile west of Piru, California–surrounded by about 300 acres of orange trees.

1959-098--HarrySnell-Opal  PiruCA

This photo shows my mother’s sister, Opal (Cauthen), with her husband Harry Snell. They were on vacation in 1959 and visited the Paregiens at the ranch west of Piru. At the time they lived on the near-northwest side of Tulsa. A few years later they moved to a large acreage west of Jay, Oklahoma. Eventually they moved into the town of Jay, where she died and he followed a few years later.

1959-048 RobertaParegien-friend

That ol’ Rincon beach near Ventura, California was where a lot of folks spent considerable time. In this photo Roberta Paregien and classmate/friend Marla Brewer are building a . . . a, uh . . . well, maybe a castle. Or something. I have been corrected about my earlier statement that Bill DeJarnette (our former neighbor on the Samuel Edwards Ranch) had served as the Chief of Police in Fillmore. Not so, according to my sister. It was Marla Brewer’s brother, Bill Brewer. Well, heck, at my age I consider it a triumph and “close enough to correct” to have gotten the first name right.

1959-016 StanParegien-JimEdwards

Jim “Tank” Edwards takes Stan Paregien for a ride on his shoulders. Photo taken at Rincon beach near Ventura, Calif., sometime in 1959.

That’s the end of my diverse collection of photos from that vintage year of 1959. I hope you have enjoyed the ride.

By the way, if you have photos about the Fillmore, California “Class of 1959 and would like to share them, I’d sure like to see them.

Best wishes to one and all,

–Stan Paregien

P.S. Be sure to see the previous three installments of 1959 photos.

Issue 280 – Photos from 1959, Part 03

Issue 280    —    The Paregien Journal    —    May 10, 2014

Photos from 1959 (Part 3)

by Stan Paregien Sr.

Alright, my friends, here is another group of photos from that vintage year of 1959. This time it is specifically about the Class of 1959 at Fillmore (California) Union High School and the events surrounding our graduation on a beautiful, clear night out on the football field. That was followed by an “all night party” and breakfast.

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Three people come to my mind who are not on the official list, above, but were and are an integral part of our experiences together at FUHS. First, there was Daryl Muth of Piru. He quit school to join the Air Force and later got his GED. He has lived in Ojai for many years. Then there was Elaine Campbell, also of Piru. She dropped out of school and eventually became a law enforcement officer. Elaine lives in the desert community of Pear Blossom. And then there was Joyce Decker, and I don’t know the details of her life except she dropped out (as I recall). There are probably a few others, but my “recaller” is frayed at this point.

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That’s all I have for our official graduation from dear ol’ Fillmore High School in Fillmore, California. As with all such groups, we scattered to the wind. Some went on to college, others went into the military and still others went directly into the work force. Today, several of our classmates have died. Most of us have retired from the work force or are nearing that point. Others have serious health issues. This is an opportunity for those of us who remain to reflect once more on what a wonderful time and place it was to be young in Fillmore in 1959.

–Stan Paregien