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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

ELECTION THERAPY FROM MY BASKET OF DEPLORABLES

(The following was written by the brother of liberal New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.  Obviously he has a different outlook on the recent election than his esteemed sister.)

The election was a complete repudiation of Barack Obama: his fantasy world of political correctness, the politicization of the Justice Department and the I.R.S., an out-of-control E.P.A., his neutering of the military, his nonsupport of the police and his fixation on things like transgender bathrooms. Since he became president, his party has lost 63 House seats, 10 Senate seats and 14 governor positions.

The country had signaled strongly in the last two midterms that they were not happy. The Dems' answer was to give them more of the same from a person they did not like or trust.

Preaching - and pandering - with a message of inclusion, the Democrats have instead become a party where incivility and bad manners are taken for granted, rudeness is routine, religion is mocked and there is absolutely no respect for a differing opinion. This did not go down well in the Midwest, where Trump flipped three blue states and 44 electoral votes.

The rudeness reached its peak when Vice President-elect Mike Pence was booed by attendees of "Hamilton" and then pompously lectured by the cast. This may play well with the New York theater crowd but is considered boorish and unacceptable by those of us taught to respect the office of the president and vice president, if not the occupants.

Here is a short primer for the young protesters. If your preferred candidate loses, there is no need for mass hysteria, canceled midterms, safe spaces, crying rooms or group primal screams. You might understand this better if you had not received participation trophies, undeserved grades to protect your feelings or even if you had a proper understanding of civics. The Democrats are now crying that Hillary had more popular votes. That can be her participation trophy.

If any of my sons had told me they were too distraught over a national election to take an exam, I would have brought them home the next day, fearful of the instruction they were receiving. Not one of the top 50 colleges mandate one semester of Western Civilization. Maybe they should rethink that.

Mr. Trump received over 62 million votes, not all of them cast by homophobes, Islamaphobes, racists, sexists, misogynists or any other "ists." I would caution Trump deniers that all of the crying and whining is not good preparation for the coming storm. The liberal media, both print and electronic, has lost all credibility. I am reasonably sure that none of the mainstream print media had stories prepared for a Trump victory. I watched the networks and cable stations in their midnight meltdown - embodied by Rachel Maddow explaining to viewers that they were not having a "terrible, terrible dream" and that they had not died and "gone to hell."

The media's criticism of Trump's high-level picks as "not diverse enough" or "too white and male" - a day before he named two women and offered a cabinet position to an African-American - magnified this fact.

Here is a final word to my Democratic friends. The election is over. There will not be a do-over. So let me bid farewell to Al Sharpton, Ben Rhodes and the Clintons. Note to Cher, Barbra, Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham: Your plane is waiting. And to Jon Stewart, who talked about moving to another planet: Your spaceship is waiting. To Bruce Springsteen, Jay Z, Beyoncé and Katy Perry, thanks for the free concerts. And finally, to all the foreign countries that contributed to the Clinton Foundation, there will not be a payoff or a rebate.

As Eddie Murphy so eloquently stated in the movie 48 Hrs.: "There's a new sheriff in town." And he is going to be here for 1,461 days.  

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

HOLLYWOOD AND THE WORLD WAR II YEARS

Would you believe that during World War II Hollywood matinee idol Clark Gable flew several B-17 missions to acquire film footage? How about leading man Jimmy Stewart flying B-17s and B-24s in raids over Germany?

It’s true and as a veteran, Stewart was highly decorated for his bravery while rising to the rank of Brigadier General. Gable flew many missions and rose to the rank of Captain. These are just two examples of how Hollywood got immersed in the war effort during those perilous times between 1941 and 1945.

Seventy-five years ago this month on December 7, 1941, “A date which will live in infamy,” the Japanese attacked the American base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii thrusting the United States into World War II. By June of 1942 the Office of War Information was established and one of its duties was to advise Hollywood about what they thought were appropriate films to depict the war. Various themes were used like glorification of the war, attempts at showing a balanced point of view, morale builders, and some “Let’s mow ‘em down" flicks.

Clark Gable in a B-17 during WWII
Some of the efforts in the 1942-1943 era were not only considered good “war” movies  but are remembered as great films in general  as they have withstood the test of time. “Guadacanal Diary” (1943),“Wake Island” (1942), and “Objective, Burma!” (1945) are good examples. They were based on real events insofar as they concerned themselves with actual places and combat initiatives, but another purpose was to pump up the audience as much as to present information. By doing so, they usually depicted an ethnically mixed group of US soldiers drawn together despite their differences by their patriotism, while illustrating their hatred of a common enemy. 

After dismal early failures, the war pendulum began to swing back toward the allies in 1943 and 1944. At that time Hollywood began producing more films aimed at depicting life on the home front. Movies like “Tender Comrades” (1943) and “Since You Went Away” (1944) showed moviegoers how the families of servicemen coped with the war while they were gone.

Many upbeat musicals were made during wartime with some of them slipping in negative remarks about the enemy and praising the American point of view.  Patriotism was “in” and great support was given to activities like scrap metal drives and “victory gardens” to help offset rationing and support the war effort. Films like Jimmy Cagney’s award winning “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942) exemplified those feelings.

Other musicals like “Stage Door Canteen” (1943) and Hollywood Canteen” (1944) were star studded favorites that dealt more directly with the current war effort.  In these films various Hollywood stars would perform in a USO Club setting while serving food and drinks and mingling with servicemen, mostly enlisted.

There were also song and dance extravaganzas like “Holiday Inn” (1942) with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire that made no mention of the war but were produced to serve as enjoyable reminders of American life and what our veteran servicemen were fighting for. “Christmas in Connecticut” with Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan was released after the war in 1945 and dealt with a Navy veteran returning home to post war America.

Besides the many films made about World War II, Hollywood also went on the road as screen stars traveled far and wide on USO tours to entertain the veteran troops. The USO (United Service Organizations) was established in 1941 and by 1944 had 3,000 clubs operating. These clubs went a long way to provide entertainment and a touch of home for troops worldwide.

While many stars were involved with entertaining the troops, none were more famous than Bob Hope.  His first show was at March Field in California in March of 1941. Hope did his show before the United States was even involved with World War II. He then traveled tirelessly throughout the war with his litany of military jokes entertaining thousands of troops at the front. Hope wasn’t alone as songwriter Irving Berlin, character actor Reginald Gardner, harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler, singer Frances Langford, comedian Jack Benny, and actress Marlene Dietrich were among many others who visited the troops.

Other stars like pinup girl Betty Grable, Bette Davis, Greer Garson, and Rita Hayworth stayed on the home front and were instrumental in raising support for war bonds and other war related causes like scrap drives. Hayworth even contributed the bumpers off her personal car.

This activity by the stars showed the American people that if the movie stars could deprive themselves of certain niceties, it certainly would be all right for Mary and John Q. Public to do likewise.

The era of World War II was a time of unity in the United States when our people pitched in together toward the war effort.  It also was a time when Hollywood was there to do its part.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

REMEMBERING GENERAL McDOWELL ON VETERAN'S DAY

If you have lived in the Scottsdale area very long, you are probably familiar with how many items carry the name “McDowell.” You can observe the McDowell Mountains, gamble at Fort McDowell, visit McDowell Mountain Park or buy a car on McDowell Road. One would think this guy McDowell must have been quite a guy. In his own way, he was.

General Irvin McDowell (1818-1885) 
(National Archives)
In his early career beginning in the late 1830’s, Irvin McDowell held his own with guys like Ulysses Grant and Robert E. Lee. He graduated from West Point in 1838 at age 20 where he received his commission as a second lieutenant.  By 1856, he had fought in the Mexican War and had been promoted to the rank of major.

After his promotion to brigadier general during the Civil War in 1861, he fell into the trap of the Peter Principle as he was routed by Southern troops in the first and second battles of Bull Run in Virginia. After those embarrassments, he was considered an ineffective field general and was assigned to the lesser duty of being commander of the Department of the Pacific. Supposedly, during this duty he became familiar with the West and Arizona.  However, some historians claim that he never set foot in Arizona.

Regardless, in 1872 McDowell was promoted to major general in spite of his war record. He had served his country faithfully such as during his service in the West which included building a railroad bridge for the Southern Pacific over the Colorado River at Yuma in 1877. That bridge was important to western expansion.

In 1882, McDowell retired from the Army at age 64 having served for 44 years. He became a park commissioner for San Francisco and remained in that position until he died on May 4, 1885.

There will never be a movement to list General McDowell with guys like Eisenhower, Patton, Grant, and MacArthur as one of our greatest generals but his 44 years of military service are an accomplishment that should be noted. It would be a fitting gesture if some year on November's Veteran's Day, if you live in Arizona and are watching the sun shine on the McDowell Mountains, to give a nod, and maybe even a salute, and say, “Happy Birthday, Irvin and thanks for your 44 years of service to your country.”

Sunday, October 02, 2016

TEN ADVANTAGES OF WINTERING IN ARIZONA

It is now the first week in October, 2016 in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area.  In most parts of the country October means thoughts of chilly nights and preparation for the onset of winter which is just around the corner.  

Ah, winter; I remember it well during my days in Cincinnati and Missouri.  Once it arrived with its ice, snow, and cold it was as though it would never leave.  In Arizona we love the winters with the sunny 70 degree days especially when we play golf on a January day while the northerners are shoveling snow.

Like practically everything in life, however, there is a bit of a payback for the northerners as we Arizonans have to endure 100 plus degree days practically every day from June into September and sometimes beyond.  Neither situation is perfect but since I have lived in Arizona since 1987, I obviously prefer the situation here.  There is something about ice cold car seats and heaters that don’t really work well in the extreme cold that makes me glad I have to search for a parking space with shade in the summer in Arizona.

So, while those living in the northern climes are piling on the firewood and warming up the car for fifteen minutes in the morning hoping the heater works, here are a few advantages for Arizonans as they prepare for winter as listed by Scott Craven of AZCENTRAL.COM.

1.  You can now launder the smelly shirt you have kept in the back seat of your car all summer for sweat emergencies.
2.  You can now fire up the stove and enjoy food that doesn’t have to fit in a toaster oven.
3.  You can walk the dog without having to set the alarm clock at 3:00 a.m.
4.  Prepare smug Facebook weather posts for comparisons with your East Coast friends.
5.  You can now enjoy the post-dryer warmth of bed sheets straight out of the dryer.
6.  You can now open the blinds and allow sunlight to shine on areas not illuminated since May!
7.  Two words:  Patio dining. 
8.  Prepare your cold weather gear as temperatures could plummet into the 60’s before you know it!
9.  Answer the usual “What do you want to do this weekend?” question without starting, “We’ll head north….
10.  Breathe deep the rich scent of manure as your neighbors prep their lawns for winter seeding.

Would you prefer to be the guy below or play golf in Arizona like pro champion Kirk Triplett?  DUH!

BRRRRRRRRR!

BRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

 

Saturday, September 03, 2016

COLIN KAEPERNICK

Quote from San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick:  "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.  To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder." 

I don’t see any place where he said he will refuse to take his large salary from a white managed NFL team in order to reinforce his beliefs about the poor treatment of blacks in our society.  So far all he has done is refuse to stand for National Anthem of the country that has allowed him to become rich and famous.

·    Note to Colin:  Hey, Colin!  If you really want to impress us, walk away from your high paying job in the NFL and get yourself down and dirty in the neighborhoods where you feel that black people are getting a bad deal and physically help them out of their quagmire of a life.  However, before you do that you may wish to know that in 2015 police killings of blacks accounted for approximately 4 percent of homicides of blacks.  Police killings of unarmed blacks accounted for approximately 0.6 percent of homicides of blacks.  The overwhelming majority of black homicide victims (93 percent from 1980 to 2008) were performed by blacks.  (from American Renaissance)
While Kaepernick tries to impress us that blacks are getting a bad deal because of unfairness in the United States, he may be partially correct although not the way he would wish to be.  The above numbers show that blacks are more likely to kill each other and that those bodies in the streets that he mentions may probably have nothing to do with  police brutality.  Maybe he should check the facts closer before insulting his country unnecessarily. Although I think the guy means well, he may have had his bell rung a few times too many on the football field. 
It’s a shame when these situations occur.  I have always enjoyed watching the guy play for the 49ers even though I am not a fan of that or any other NFL team.  He has always impressed me with his running ability when it appears he may be thrown for a significant loss.  Unfortunately, it appears that he may be cut regardless of any skills he had or currently has.  He has been around a few years and the NFL has a way of slowing guys down simply because of the attrition of age and injury.  Kaepernick is now 28 and has had a lot of physical punishment for the last six years.  Maybe he has lost a step.

I don’t particularly care what he does as I don’t follow the NFL very much anymore.  However, I feel the wrong people have advised him in this situation.  A lot of players in the league are not happy that he has trashed the American flag and the National Anthem. Like most Americans, they don’t like that he is abusing the country that has made him famous and awarded him with a lot of money. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

EVERY GUY REMEMBERS HIS FIRST CAR

A friend and I were reminiscing the other day about the first cars we ever owned.  I doubt if there is any guy who can’t fondly recall in detail his first “heap” and I am no exception.

Mine was a 1954 Ford “Mainline” two door business coupe.  I loved that car; it was a “stick shift” with a 6 cylinder engine and because it was a business coupe, it had no bells and whistles.  It was designed to get salesmen from A to B with no frills. 

I was 16 and the thought of luxuries like whitewall tires, a radio, or an automatic transmission were unheard of on the Mainline model.  The driver was the only one who got an armrest, an outside rear view mirror, and a sun visor.  As far as a radio, I had to get a cheap AM from Sears after I saved the few bucks to afford it. Those were the days before cars had FM radio so it was only AM and didn’t even have push buttons to find the stations.  I had to dial them in.  As far as air conditioning, Cadillacs were about the only cars that had it then.  I used the 260 form:  2 windows open and going 60 miles an hour. 

Electric windshield wipers were unheard of then also.  They were vacuum operated which meant that every time you pressed on the gas pedal, they would stop!  If nothing else they forced you to drive VERY carefully when it was raining!

My heap looked like this only without the side chrome strip
There were 50,000 miles on that Ford in an era when cars were pretty much used up if they made it to 80 or 90 thousand miles.  But, with only $600 saved up and borrowed from my parents, I wasn’t expecting the world.  Besides, I now had wheels, which was a lot nicer than hitch hiking or walking.

My parents made it clear that they wanted their loan paid back ASAP.  It was the 1950’s and the term “work ethic” meant something.  If you borrowed money under the terms of an agreement you were expected to pay off that loan per the agreement.  There were no special dispensations for family members in most cases as integrity meant something then.  Hence, I got a summer job doing delivery work throughout my hometown Cincinnati area.  It paid $60 a week and gave me the opportunity to learn my way around the metro area.  When school resumed, I worked part time in a grocery store.  I still remember my last payment on that Ford and my receiving the title free and clear.  I felt like a big shot!

The 1950’s seem like a million years ago now.  In most homes, dad was the bread winner and mom ran the house.  When kids came home from school mom was there to greet them while dad usually rode the bus to and from his job.  Many vacations involved family trips to the seashore or the mountains in the family car for a brief respite from the typical workdays. 

The mandatory military draft was also in effect so when boys tuned 18 they had to get a “draft card” which meant that they eventually would have to serve in the military.  They could wait until they were called or voluntarily join but either way, there was usually no way to avoid serving.  The military did a lot of guys a lot of good whether it offered them a career or taught them some valuable lessons about life which with many cases I see today, are sadly lacking.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

LIVING THE ARIZONA LIFESTYLE

(Arizona joke:  It was so hot I saw a coyote chasing a jackrabbit and they were both walking!)

Those of us who have lived in Arizona for a reasonable amount of time understand what the place is all about with regards to lifestyle and the effect that weather has on it.

My wife and I have been permanent residents of Scottsdale and Phoenix for the last 27 years.  Before that we were mid-westerners having grown up in Cincinnati and later living in the Kansas City area for 20 years.  We knew all about seasonal changes like ice and snow, humid summers, and raking leaves.  Corn fields were a common sight as were lush green lawns plus we had daylight savings time.

Living in Arizona is a whole new ball game.  As described by local writer S. E. Schlosser in a hilarious recent column about the differences between Arizona and the more northern climes, we always carry our own water with us.  Most of the time, especially in the summer, almost everyone will be holding a bottle of water, usually the large economy size.  It’s what one does when the temperatures start going up around March to a steady diet of 100+ degree days.  The record for March is 102 degrees set in 1988.  As I write this in June, I still remember June of 1990 when it hit 122 degrees.  Carrying your own H2O makes a lot of sense under those conditions.

Winter in Scottsdale (usually)
Here are a few more observations from Ms Schlosser concerning the summer Arizona lifestyle:  1. Do not expect cold water to come out of the cold water tap (see above listed temperatures as why that is so).  2.  Arizonans consider 90 degree weather as representing a cooling trend.  People take certain jobs because covered parking is a perk.  (Caution: do not touch a dashboard that has been exposed to the sun for a long period!) 3. Outdoor activities start at about 5:00 a.m. and end about 8:00 a.m.4. You run INTO the rain instead of out of it (That is assuming that there IS any rain!). 5.Umbrellas are used on sunny days, not rainy ones.  6. You are happy to see a lizard in your yard because it proves that something is alive.  7. The local weather report is a looped tape.  8. You would rather get a letter from the IRS than have to open your utility bill. 9. You’re an expert on ceiling fans because you have one in every room constantly in use.  10. You buy sunscreen in quart size containers.

So, why would anyone want to live in such a place?  A lot of residents flee in the summer to the northern climes because of the above mentioned items.  In the winter there is the opposite:  People flood back to their winter homes in Arizona because of the nice sunny days and temperatures in the 70 to 80 degree range.  The golf courses are reseeded so they are green during the winter.  Of course green fees rise also but if one can afford to live in Arizona in the winter, so what.  In short, it is a nice lifestyle that I wouldn’t trade for anywhere else.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A MEMORIAL DAY SALUTE TO THOSE WHO HAVE SERVED

With the conclusion of the month of May, we have Memorial Day.  It was originally called Decoration Day as it was a time when surviving members of the families of fallen Union soldiers from the Civil War decorated the graves of their relatives who died in that war.   Later on, the meaning and the name was changed to Memorial Day to include all soldiers who had fallen in various other wars.

As a veteran of the United States Air Force (1961-1965), Memorial Day is special.  I was fortunate enough to serve during peace time but the end of May was still a time when my buddies and I took time to show special respect to the guys who preceded us and had physically fought to keep America great.

As an Airman 2nd Class, 1964
I must admit that when I was a kid, I looked at Memorial Day as a day off from school and that is about it. When I turned 18 and got my draft card, I began to have a different outlook.  With that card in my pocket I suddenly faced the fact that I was going to have to serve my country in the Armed Forces whether I liked it or not.  By age 20 I had not been called but knowing it was inevitable, I joined the United States Air Force and was sent to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas for basic training.

It was a case of getting a “baptism of fire” as I was quickly transformed from a kid living at home eating Mom’s cooking to living in a barracks with 70 other guys from 70 different towns and eating in “chow halls.”  Along with that, I had two sergeants constantly telling me and the other guys what a bunch of losers we were and that we better “Shape up!”

It was a classic case of the military using their methods to transform boys into men.  For most of us, it worked as we settled into the program and became troopers.  For about ten guys who couldn’t adjust, they were sent home with the chore ahead of them of explaining to their friends how they couldn’t “cut it.”

After five weeks of basic training, some of us were sent to various tech schools to learn specific jobs.  In my case I was sent to Amarillo Air Force Base in Texas to attend Supply School.   After three months I was assigned to Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri where I spent the rest of my four years except for temporary duty in Germany from June to October of 1963. On September 10, 1965, I was discharged.


In retrospect, it was a great four years.  I did a lot of growing up and met a lot of people from both ends of the spectrum.  In 1973, the government discontinued the draft which I think was a gigantic mistake.  A lot of guys did some serious growing up by serving their country.  It’s a quality sadly missing from many today.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

TV AND POLITICS: THE NIXON-KENNEDY DEBATES OF 1960

The  Presidential election of 2016 will be interesting.  It will probably be between Hillary and The Donald.  Will a woman win? Will Obama's  record affect her chances?  Will America vote for a successful businessman with no political experience? A similar situation occurred in 1960 when the question was whether a Catholic could get elected.  We shall see.....

 The presidential election of 1960       had some interesting “firsts.”  It was the first election that involved all 50 states as Hawaii and Alaska had joined the list in 1959. It also was first to have two sitting senators on the same ticket (Democrats John Kennedy-Lyndon Johnson) while Kennedy became the first Catholic to be elected to the presidency.
Another “first” that had an influence on the election was the four Nixon-Kennedy televised debates.
Pre-election debates had not been that big a deal other than the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858 in Illinois which drew large crowds even though the election was not even decided by popular vote.  Later, FDR turned down an invitation to debate with Wendell Wilkie in 1940 dismissing it as a “media stunt”.
However, by 1960 there were over 52 million television sets in the United States making TV an obvious and important outlet for political debates.  Republicans and Democrats recognized this so four debates were arranged for the fall of 1960 between Senator Kennedy and Republican Vice President/candidate Richard Nixon.
The first debate was about domestic issues and drew 70 million viewers along with a smaller audience that listened on the radio.
Radio listeners picked Nixon as the winner but the much larger TV audience picked Kennedy.  As far as substance, the candidates were considered about even.   However, this was an example of how much television counted as a cosmetic business even 50 years ago when most viewers were watching black and white sets with poor reception and smaller screens.  The TV audience got to hear AND see the candidates which gave Kennedy a large advantage.
Nixon either let his ego get in the way of common sense or else he dismissed the debate as meaningless.  He had injured his knee a month earlier and had spent a couple weeks in the hospital for treatment.  When he arrived for the debate he was emaciated looking, had ill fitting clothes, and refused makeup for his ever present five o’clock shadow.
Conversely, Kennedy, who was five years younger than Nixon, showed up tanned, healthy, rested, and ready for action.  When the debate began, Kennedy exhibited charisma, confidence, and a smooth delivery while Nixon appeared sickly and intimidated.  Needless to say, Kennedy won the night on TV where it counted the most and that carried over to the other debates.
There are those who think that Kennedy would have won the presidency anyway although 6% of voters said the debates were a factor in their candidate choice.  As it turned out the election was a squeaker with Kennedy winning 303 electoral votes to Nixon’s 219.  Kennedy won the popular vote by only 112,827 votes but lost 26 states.
Perhaps Nixon should have reconsidered using makeup for that first debate after all.
(Thanks to Erika Tyner Allen)

Monday, March 28, 2016

LET'S DO IT; (LET'S FALL IN LOVE!)

Music is fun and entertaining to most of us whether it is from our own memories of pop tunes recorded during our lifetimes or before.

I love the old songs because the tunes are so great and supply us with a vision of their times and plus some of the lyrics infuriate the holier than thou liberals of today who don’t understand the era that produced the songs.
A favorite is “Let’s Do It" (Let’s fall in love)” written in 1928 by the prolific Cole Porter.  The irony in this song is in the opening chorus where it states that “Chinks do it, Japs do it, up in Lapland little Laps do it...” 
Porter wrote it for the show Paris which was his first Broadway success.  With the politically correct world that evolved, the lyrics were later changed to “Birds do it, bees do it”.  I think that is a cop out; I think Porter was just having fun with the first lyrics and meant nothing harmful with “Chinks do it, Japs do it” but as we know, tastes change and skin gets thinner .
I’ve been a music freak forever and still carry a harmonica around much to the disdain of some but, hey, that’s just me.  I’ve been following pop music since I was 6 or 7 and have never tired of it although some of the stuff today makes me glad I like what are now the radio oldies. 
One favorite from the late 40’s was a regular on the hit parade from WCKY in Cincinnati:  Peggy Lee and her then husband Dave Barbour doing “Manana.”  Peggy was great with any tune.  As she sang so well:  "Manana is soon enough for me."
The 60s were nice.  I spent 4 years in the Air Force; plenty of time to learn things I would never had learned by staying in Cincy.   Also a time to meet girls and dance and love in clubs from Texas and Missouri to Germany only to come home in 1965 and find my true love a month later.  I have been with her for 49 years!  Isn’t fate great?  The young guys today don’t know what they missed by not having to serve in the military..
Meanwhile, tunes like “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, “The Twist”, “The Duke of Earl”, “Surf City”, “Sugar Shack”, all the great British invasion songs including “Downtown” by Pet Clark; "Monday, Monday,” “Crimson and Clover”, and many other great tunes came along.
Even today, I still like to occasionally turn up the volume all the way and break off the knob as I am doing while I write this paean to pop music.  So far while writing I have played The Smithereens, Donnie Iris, “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, Norman Greenbaum, "West End Girls," Jefferson Starship,  "One Night in Bangkok," Greg Kihn Band, and Yes. 
Great stuff.

(Comments?, Questions? Please post below.)

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

DOG COLLARS AND EVENING IN PARIS: DATING IN THE 50'S

I remember as a kid in the 1950's how teenage girls had a style of wearing a dog collar around their ankle.  Apparently, when a girl wore the collar on her LEFT ankle, it indicated she was going steady. If it was on her RIGHT ankle, it meant she wasn’t going steady. Sound strange? Remember, it was an era of petticoats, sock hops, padded bras, girdles, and girls washing their hair with bath soap.  Let's not forget Evening in Paris perfume that was available at most drugstores.  Cheap stuff for sure but every guy dreamed of going home after a date with the smell of it lingering on him courtesy of some lovely 17 year old babe.

At this moment, if you are young enough, many of you are probably asking, "What the hell is ‘going steady?’" Going steady happened when a boy and girl THOUGHT they were in love as teenagers and made a pact that they wouldn’t date anyone else. Of course, the fickle nature of youth would eventually kick in and the couple would break up but it was a pretty good deal for a while as it guaranteed both members a date on a Saturday night. Unfortunately, occasionally the couple would become a bit too serious and another baby boomer would enter the world courtesy of a hot night in the back seat of a ‘51 Ford.

Having never had kids of my own (I think), I’m not sure what teenagers do now other than what I see from a distance. For example, it doesn’t look like going steady or dating is a big deal anymore. In the ‘50s, a boy would nervously call a girl in the hopes of obtaining a precious date for a Saturday night. That few moments between asking the big question and waiting for the answer was agony! What if she said "No!"? Even worse, what if she said, "Gee, I really like ya a lot but Ralph already asked me out." I think "I like ya a lot" was more devastating to hear than "No." It meant "Not in your wildest dreams are you ever going to touch me."

I’ve noticed in recent years that teenage boys and girls run in groups. I’ve seen mobs of them at places like Paradise Valley Mall in Phoenix and have noticed that several malls in recent years have imposed restrictions on having kids "hangin’ out." The girls dress sloppy like the boys and receive the same minimal respect from their peers. That’s a lot different from my teenage days when we put girls on a pedestal. Well, some girls anyway!

It’s more proof of how the world has changed. Today kids have iPhones which never leave their ears. We had 45 rpm records. We had gas stations with attendants and "ding-ding" bells and restrooms that had a purple neon light under the toilet seat to give the illusion it was sanitizing. Today you pump your own at Circle K. We had girls with dog collars on their ankles, today they actually put collars on dogs. Imagine that!

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

1945: K. T. PALMER AND THE PHOENIX HANDGUN ORDINANCE

K. T. Palmer  (1899-1976), and a fellow named Tom Darlington were the founders of Carefree, Arizona in the mid 1950’s.

Real estate wasn’t Palmer’s only vocation as explained in his book “For Land’s Sake” (1971).  He also was a homesteader, a lawyer, and during World War II was a successful secondhand store operator.  He sold a lot of war surplus items including secondhand guns.

K. T Palmer (right) looking over plans for 
Carefree, Arizona.
He was not an expert on guns but he found that he was selling more handguns than dealers who were more knowledgeable than he was.  The reason was that Phoenix at that time had a city ordinance concerning handguns that was a frustration to other dealers.

Phoenix required a police permit to be issued before a handgun sale could be made with the idea being to keep guns away from crooks.  Unfortunately, the cops looked at the permit as a way to stop gun sales to everyone. 

Palmer related that a typical situation may go like this:  A lady whose husband was out of town a lot could buy a pistol for protection at a place like a hardware store where she would be told of the necessary police permit.  After filling out the forms, she would go to the police station for her permit.

After arriving she would typically get a retort from an officer asking:  “Who do you want to shoot?”  After nervously replying “N-n-nobdy” she would be asked “Then why do you need a gun!?”  After mentioning that her husband was out at night a lot” she would hear something like “We are here to protect you, you don’t need a gun!”  In other words, “Beat it!” Men were treated in similar fashion.

In actuality, the law stated that refusal of a permit was only a factor if the applicant had a record of drunkenness, was insane, or was a criminal.  Since Palmer was probably the only secondhand store owner in Phoenix with a Harvard law degree, he knew how to avoid the attitude of the cops by going to the Chief of Police about it.  His gun sales jumped by 33% and he never had another rejection.  In fact, because of his persistence, the permit law was eventually repealed for legitimate gun buyers.

Today, if you are 21, buying a pistol and carrying it concealed is within the law in Phoenix and in Arizona.  Those who disagree with that and believe in restricting or collecting guns so they can be destroyed, are fooling themselves.  In his era, Palmer stated that he would “no more deprive the private citizen of his right to possess firearms to defend himself and his home than he would to deprive him the right to own and operate that far more lethal weapon, the automobile.”

He also stated that it frightened him to think of the day when a representative of a government hostile to our way of life, would knock on his door and demand his guns.

Palmer was a bright guy.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

CLYDE "SMITTY" SMITH, 1919-2016

When I graduated from college in 1969, I wasn’t sure what profession I should pursue.  I had spent a four year hitch in the Air Force during the 60’s and with my college years added to that,  I was thrust into a competitive job market at age 28.  Since I had worked in some grocery stores as a kid, I decided to take advantage of an offer from Lever Brothers Company to be a salesman calling on the grocery trade at the headquarters and retail level.

My interview with Smitty, December, 2010.
That probably doesn’t sound too exciting but that early job in the grocery business served a couple of good purposes:  It gave me an opportunity to gain valuable experience plus a good living as a peddler and more important,  it gave me a chance to meet Clyde Smith, one of the most savvy , intelligent, and nice guys I ever met.  By the time I met Mr. Smith in 2010, I was retired from selling but was writing stories on various subjects for the Arizona and Scottsdale Republic newspapers.  However, any tips I would receive from readers that pertained to grocery stores always gained my attention first.

The grocery trade is one that stays in one’s system even after they leave the business.  Although Mr. Smith’s “Smitty’s” markets were long gone from the Phoenix scene by 2010, he was making, at age 91, a tour to promote his recently published book about his life in the business.  I bought the book and quickly discovered that Smitty was not just another guy who happened to have some accidental success selling groceries; Smitty was a genius and a pioneering one at that.

From Mr. Smith’s example and my own experience calling on the grocery trade, it was easy to understand how the business gets into one’s blood.  If Horatio Alger, the 19th century author of many “rags to riches” stories, had been alive during Clyde Smith’s lifetime, he would have had a perfect example of one of his heroes. 

Born poor in Iowa in 1919, Smith worked in coal mines and other low level jobs before, at age 17, he made his way to Ames, Iowa in 1936.  Times were understandably tough as the Great Depression was in its eighth year.  However, Clyde was still able to land a position at Rushing’s Market, a small grocery store in the Ames area.  That job was the break of a lifetime and a distinct turning point in his life.  He caught on quickly and learned all the basic aspects of the retail grocery trade.  That experience combined with logic and a “go for it” attitude served him well.  By 
1957, he was operating six Smitty’s stores in Iowa.

Smitty passing savings on coffee to customers
 Sensing an opportunity Smitty eventually opened 20 stores in the Phoenix area between 1961 and 1980 and in the 1970’s those stores controlled 35% of the Phoenix grocery business. His formula was pretty simple:  He used the concept of mass merchandising by buying large quantities from suppliers and passing the savings on to his customers.  29 cent chicken dinners and 29 cent gallons of milk were hard to pass up!

Smitty died recently on January 3, 2016 at age 96.  He was a fine businessman, proudly served his country during World War II in the 1940’s, and will be sorely missed by anyone fortunate enough to have met him.

(Google “Smitty’s Big Town” for former employee comments through Facebook  regarding  Mr. Smith)