Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Last Ones

My sister forwarded this to me a few minutes ago. For those who never knew us even though you thought you did, this is a part of who we were -- TW

Children of the 30s & 40s “The Last Ones”
              A Short Memoir

Born in the 1930s and early 40s, we exist as a very special age cohort.  We are the “last ones.”  We are the last, climbing out of the depression, who can remember the winds of war and the war itself with fathers and uncles going off.  We are the last to remember ration books for everything from sugar to shoes to stoves. We saved tin foil and poured fat into tin cans.  We saw cars up on blocks because tires weren’t available.

We are the last to hear Roosevelt ’s radio assurances and to see gold stars in the front windows of our grieving neighbors.  We can also remember the parades on August 15, 1945; VJ Day.

We saw the ‘boys’ home from the war build their Cape Cod style houses, pouring the cellar, tar papering it over and living there until they could afford the time and money to build it out.

We are the last who spent childhood without television; instead imagining what we heard on the radio.   As we all like to brag, with no TV, we spent our childhood “playing outside until the street lights came on.”   We did play outside and we did play on our own.  There was no little league.

The lack of television in our early years meant, for most of us, that we had little real understanding of what the world was like.  Our Saturday afternoons, if at the movies, gave us newsreels of the war and the holocaust sandwiched in between westerns and cartoons.  Newspapers and magazines were written for adults.   We are the last who had to find out for ourselves.

As we grew up, the country was exploding with growth.   The G.I. Bill gave returning veterans the means to get an education and spurred colleges to grow. VA loans fanned a housing boom.  Pent up demand coupled with new installment payment plans put factories to work. New highways would bring jobs and mobility.  The veterans joined civic clubs and became active in politics.  In the late 40s and early 50’s the country seemed to lie in the embrace of brisk but quiet order as it gave birth to its new middle class.  Our parents understandably became absorbed with their own new lives.  They were free from the confines of the depression and the war.  They threw themselves into exploring opportunities they had never imagined.

We weren’t neglected but we weren’t today’s all-consuming family focus.  They were glad we played by ourselves ‘until the street lights came on.’  They were busy discovering the post war world.

Most of us had no life plan, but with the unexpected virtue of ignorance and an economic rising tide we simply stepped into the world and went to find out.  We entered a world of overflowing plenty and opportunity; a world where we were welcomed.  Based on our na├»ve belief that there was more where this came from, we shaped life as we went.

We enjoyed a luxury; we felt secure in our future.  Of course, just as today, not all Americans shared in this experience.  Depression poverty was deep rooted.  Polio was still a crippler.  The Korean War was a dark presage in the early 50s and by mid-decade school children were ducking under desks.   China became Red China.  Eisenhower sent the first ‘advisors’ to Vietnam .  Castro set up camp in Cuba and Khrushchev came to power.

We are the last to experience an interlude when there were no existential threats to our homeland.  We came of age in the late 40s and early 50s.  The war was over and the cold war, terrorism, climate change, technological upheaval and perpetual economic insecurity had yet to haunt life with insistent unease.

Only we can remember both a time of apocalyptic war and a time when our world was secure and full of bright promise and plenty.   We experienced both.

We grew up at the best possible time, a time when the world was getting better not worse.

We are the ‘last ones.’

Author unknown

3 Rs

A shocker, Tex quitting the race last night after showing his unprofessional inability to laugh off the words of a political opponent quoting The National Inquirer: Tex coming all unglued when TheD mentioned OldRevCz in a sixty-three year old pic with Lee Harvey Oswald, Tex raging, raving and ranting all day instead of focusing. Imagine what would have happened had Tex become president and Putin called him a “crybaby,” we’d have had nuclear war. Or Tex would have had a nervous breakdown and we'd have had a female GOP president instead of the Hilz. 

Something about if you can’t take the heat, Tex, stay out of the kitchen. 

Had Tex not quit last night, TheD’s next nasty shot would have been to criticize his daughters’ report cards.

If TheD’s primary source of reliable news is The National Inquirer, mine is Wikipedia, where coverage of both Tex and Heidi is quite impressive.

So the Blue team is still struggling, we’re down to two Reds, can GovOhio build a case for an RNC floor fight. 

As I write, Nina and Pinta sail through the Pass into StAndrewsBay enroute to the downtown marina. Too far away for iPhone photo. Leben zul Columbus


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

turn to

This morning my temptation, for some reason, was to watch an online video of open heart surgery as a reminder of my ongoing blessing of life. So I watched as the scalpel razored a straight line down the man’s chest and the opening, until it brought to mind my sirloin steak breakfast and I cut out. 6 oz inch-thick sizzle sixty seconds on one side, flip, sixty on the other side, out and onto my plate. Rare steak and coffee black.

There goes the Navy, out for another’s days work at sea. Now turn to, turn to, commence ship’s work. Gosh I love those guys and all that went with it for me, but mainly in the destroyer nearly sixty years ago. Memory is better from 7H than standing topside watching the shoreline disappear. Destroyer, rest of the twenty years, you can keep it though loved my tours of duty in WashDC. 

This morning: Bible Seminar, usual time and place. Revelation, second cycle of seven, angels with trumpets, woman and the dragon, two beasts, Lamb and the redeemed.   

Met Father Steve as he arrived this morning and will check later.

Tuesday, all is well.


Monday, May 2, 2016

Adama the Earthlingess

A good morning for a walk, 72F 100% and if not photogenic, it's a beautiful day, and to be grateful for life and love.

Life has changed and is changing, not yet in the sense of a theologically assertive rubric that of death says life is changed not ended. Just so for the springtime of life in 7H. 

Mother's Day coming up Sunday, what to say? Thankful for the mothers who gave life to each of us, and for the mothers before them back into the ages of ages, in Heilsgeschichte to the Garden and for Eve and that she ate the apple and set our wits free. It will be a day, not to rejoice in our motherhood, because we are not all of us mothers, but gratitude that even in myth we earthlings were divided. An unimaginative Creator could as well have made us parthenogenic, yet here we are. 

Not going there theologically, but there would have been no need for Adam, and wouldn't Eve the Earthlingess have missed a lot of fun.


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Model A

Saturday headed out for an afternoon appointment, Bubba in the elevator:

Until reading of Fr. Berrigan’s death, this morning’s blogpost was to be about Model A Fords. Probably in my growing up years I rode in many, because they would have been routine in use and on the road in those days. But the one I remember was later in life, riding in Nick’s step-grandfather’s Model A Ford in Dexter, Michigan. I don’t remember it except it was an open car. It may have been a touring car, so-called “phaeton” to add an air of elegance, more likely a roadster. I was treated to a ride round Dexter one day while we were there for a family event, wedding or graduation. 

The Model A succeeded the Model T, which closed out with year 1927, then the ultra-modern Model A, supposedly revolutionary but actually only for Ford. From the Model T planetary transmission in production from 1909 (08?), controlled by foot pedals, parking brake, and alert sleight of hand, the Model A embraced the three-speed transmission that was ordinary for American cars, stick shift on the floor, three forward gears and one reverse, clutch pedal, brake, accelerator. I’ve never driven a Model A, but one Model T, a memorable Sunday afternoon experience, not to say life-changing.

Anyway, after the Model T the Model A was an all new design for Ford, four-cylinder engine, offered for model years 1928 through 1931. Year 1932 brought the Model B with a somewhat new body style, slightly improved 4-cylinder engine, and the first V8, a flathead engine called the Model 18, with Ford moving rapidly after that to the ever popular Ford V8. It was a flat-head engine through 1953, when the OHV V8 was introduced for 1954 and later models.

Model A Fords are prized collector items anymore but still affordable. 

I might love to have one, except I’d want air condition, power steering, power brakes. I can deal with the gear shifting and I don’t care about the crank windows. 

My favorite body style is the pickup truck, tudor sedan a close second. Fordor sedan comes in third. 


No Free Game

My blogposts never start with the word “I” nor often use the word “very,” two of the most overused words in the English language. Which in part shows the failure of English composition instruction in schools, not redirecting childish egocentrism that then carries throughout life, and failure to ignite imagination in thinking. Nevermind. Never alphabet mind.

The death of Daniel Berrigan is well reported in NYT this morning, stirring in myself memories and renewed awareness of how life and the mind change us as beings, as individual persons. My religious and political views, indeed my worldview, have shifted back and forth and around in my lifetime, knocked about by life’s experiences almost as if I had been the pinball in an old-fashioned pinball machine, knocked back and forth, up, down, across, moving, lights flashing all the while, numbers climbing noisily as my score increases toward the goal of a high score free game — moving — the tacky word is “inexorably” — down the slight slope to the bottom where the ball rolls out into the side tray and all the noise goes silent and the flashing lights go out sudden and simultaneous, my score disappears and the backboard goes silent ready for the next player with his quarter. 

My life problem was that I was always too cheap to invest the quarter in the first place. A personality statement in itself. And frankly, it never until this moment occurred to me that life is a pinball machine game, and it takes a quarter to play.

But Daniel Berrigan. I remember Father Berrigan well, him and his brother Philip, first as contemned leftists, then as heroes, moral heroes who, whapping me like a pinball machine flap, helped change my own worldview. He was so right in so many ways, on so many levels. Father Berrigan was discouraged that when all was said and done, from Vietnam to Iraq, we never truly changed, reverted to what we are, always have been, always will be. But he did change some of us.


NYT coverage:

Daniel J. Berrigan, Defiant Priest Who Preached Pacifism, Dies at 94
William E. Sauro/The New York Times
The Rev. Daniel J. Berrigan, a Jesuit priest and poet whose defiant protests helped shape the tactics of opposition to the Vietnam War and landed him in prison, died on Saturday in New York City. He was 94.

His death was confirmed by the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at large at America magazine, a national Catholic magazine published by Jesuits. Father Berrigan died at Murray-Weigel Hall, the Jesuit infirmary at Fordham University in the Bronx.

The United States was tearing itself apart over civil rights and the war in Southeast Asia when Father Berrigan emerged in the 1960s as an intellectual star of the Roman Catholic “new left,” articulating a view that racism and poverty, militarism and capitalist greed were interconnected pieces of the same big problem: an unjust society.

It was an essentially religious position, based on a stringent reading of the Scriptures that some called pure and others radical. But it would have explosive political consequences as Father Berrigan; his brother Philip, a Josephite priest; and their allies took their case to the streets with rising disregard for the law or their personal fortunes.

A defining point was the burning of Selective Service draft records in Catonsville, Md., and the subsequent trial of the so-called Catonsville Nine, a sequence of events that inspired an escalation of protests across the country; there were marches, sit-ins, the public burning of draft cards and other acts of civil disobedience.

The catalyzing episode occurred on May 17, 1968, six weeks after the murder of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the outbreak of new riots in dozens of cities. Nine Catholic activists, led by Daniel and Philip Berrigan, entered a Knights of Columbus building in Catonsville and went up to the second floor, where the local draft board had offices. In front of astonished clerks, they seized hundreds of draft records, carried them down to the parking lot and set them on fire with homemade napalm.

Some reporters had been told of the raid in advance. They were given a statement that said in part, “We destroy these draft records not only because they exploit our young men but because they represent misplaced power concentrated in the ruling class of America.” It added, “We confront the Catholic Church, other Christian bodies and the synagogues of America with their silence and cowardice in the face of our country’s crimes.”

In a year sick with images of destruction, from the Tet offensive in Vietnam to the murder of Dr. King, a scene was recorded that had been contrived to shock people to attention, and did so. When the police came, the trespassers were praying in the parking lot, led by two middle-aged men in clerical collars: the big, craggy Philip, a decorated hero of World War II, and the ascetic Daniel, waiting peacefully to be led into the van.

In the years to come, well into his 80s, Daniel Berrigan was arrested time and again, for greater or lesser offenses: in 1980, for taking part in the Plowshares raid on a General Electric missile plant in King of Prussia, Pa., where the Berrigan brothers and others rained hammer blows on missile warheads; in 2006, for blocking the entrance to the Intrepid naval museum in Manhattan.

“The day after I’m embalmed,” he said in 2001, on his 80th birthday, “that’s when I’ll give it up.”

It was not for lack of other things to do. In his long career of writing and teaching at Fordham and other universities, Father Berrigan published a torrent of essays and broadsides and, on average, a book a year, almost to the time of his death.

Among the more than 50 books were 15 volumes of poetry — the first of which, “Time Without Number,” won the prestigious Lamont Poetry Prize, given by the Academy of American Poets, in 1957 — as well as autobiography, social criticism, commentaries on the Old Testament prophets and indictments of the established order, both secular and ecclesiastic.

While he was known for his wry wit, there was a darkness in much of what Father Berrigan wrote and said, the burden of which was that one had to keep trying to do the right thing regardless of the near certainty that it would make no difference. In the withering of the pacifist movement and the country’s general support for the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, he saw proof that it was folly to expect lasting results.

“This is the worst time of my long life,” he said in an interview with The Nation in 2008. “I have never had such meager expectations of the system.”

What made it bearable, he wrote elsewhere, was a disciplined, implicitly difficult belief in God as the key to sanity and survival.

Many books by and about Father Berrigan remain in print, and a collection of his work over half a century, “Daniel Berrigan: Essential Writings,” was published in 2009.

He also had a way of popping up in the wider culture: as the “radical priest” in Paul Simon’s song “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”; as inspiration for the character Father Corrigan in Colum McCann’s 2009 novel, “Let the Great World Spin.” He even had a small movie role, appearing as a Jesuit priest in “The Mission” in 1989.

But his place in the public imagination was pretty much fixed at the time of the Catonsville raid, as the impish-looking half of the Berrigan brothers — traitors and anarchists in the minds of a great many Americans, exemplars to those who formed what some called the ultra-resistance.
After a trial that served as a platform for their antiwar message, the Berrigans were convicted of destroying government property and sentenced to three years each in the federal prison in Danbury, Conn. Having exhausted their appeals, they were to begin serving their terms on April 10, 1970.

Instead, they raised the stakes by going underground. The men who had been on the cover of Time were now on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most-wanted list. As Daniel explained in a letter to the French magazine Africasia, he was not buying the “mythology” fostered by American liberals that there was a “moral necessity of joining illegal action to legal consequences.” In any case, both brothers were tracked down and sent to prison.

Philip Berrigan had been the main force behind Catonsville, but it was mostly Daniel who mined the incident and its aftermath for literary meaning — a process already underway when the F.B.I. caught up with him on Block Island, off the Rhode Island coast, on Aug. 11, 1970. There was “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine,” a one-act play in free verse drawn directly from the court transcripts, and “Prison Poems,” written during his incarceration in Danbury.

In “My Father,” he wrote:
I sit here in the prison ward
nervously dickering with my ulcer
a half-tamed animal
raising hell in its living space

But in 500 lines the poem talks as well about the politics of resistance, memories of childhood terror and, most of all, the overbearing weight of his dead father:
I wonder if I ever loved him
if he ever loved us
if he ever loved me.

The father was Thomas William Berrigan, a man full of words and grievances who got by as a railroad engineer, labor union officer and farmer. He married Frida Fromhart and had six sons with her. Daniel, the fourth, was born on May 9, 1921, in Virginia, Minn.

When he was a young boy, the family moved to a farm near Syracuse to be close to his father’s family.

In his autobiography, “To Dwell in Peace,” Daniel Berrigan described his father as “an incendiary without a cause,” a subscriber to Catholic liberal periodicals and the frustrated writer of poems of no distinction.

“Early on,” he wrote, “we grew inured, as the price of survival, to violence as a norm of existence. I remember, my eyes open to the lives of neighbors, my astonishment at seeing that wives and husbands were not natural enemies.”

Battles With the Church
Born with weak ankles, Daniel could not walk until he was 4. His frailty spared him the heavy lifting demanded of his brothers; instead he helped his mother around the house. Thus he seemed to absorb not only his father’s sense of life’s unfairness but also an intimate knowledge of how a man’s rage can play out in the victimization of women.

At an early age, he wrote, he believed that the church condoned his father’s treatment of his mother. Yet he wanted to be a priest. After high school he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1946 from St. Andrew-on-Hudson, a Jesuit seminary in Hyde Park, N.Y., and a master’s from Woodstock College in Baltimore in 1952. He was ordained that year.

Sent for a year of study and ministerial work in France, he met some worker-priests who gave him “a practical vision of the Church as she should be,” he wrote. Afterward he spent three years at the Jesuits’ Brooklyn Preparatory School, teaching theology and French, while absorbing the poetry of Robert Frost, E. E. Cummings and the 19th-century Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins. His own early work often combined elements of nature with religious symbols.

But he was not to become a pastoral poet or live the retiring life he had imagined. His ideas were simply turning too hot, sometimes even for friends and mentors like Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, and the Trappist intellectual Thomas Merton.

At Le Moyne College in Syracuse, where he was a popular professor of New Testament studies from 1957 to 1963, Father Berrigan formed friendships with his students that other faculty members disapproved of, inculcating in them his ideas about pacifism and civil rights. (One student, David Miller, became the first draft-card burner to be convicted under a 1965 law.)

Father Berrigan was effectively exiled in 1965, after angering the hawkish Cardinal Francis Spellman in New York. Besides Father Berrigan’s work in organizing antiwar groups like the interdenominational Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, there was the matter of the death of Roger La Porte, a young man with whom Father Berrigan said he was slightly acquainted. To protest American involvement in Southeast Asia, Mr. La Porte set himself on fire outside the United Nations building in November 1965.

Soon, according to Father Berrigan, “the most atrocious rumors were linking his death to his friendship with me.” He spoke at a service for Mr. La Porte, and soon thereafter the Jesuits, widely believed to have been pressured by Cardinal Spellman, sent him on a “fact-finding” mission among poor workers in South America. An outcry from Catholic liberals brought him back after only three months, enough time for him to have been radicalized even further by the facts he had found.

For the Jesuits, Father Berrigan was both a magnet to bright young seminarians and a troublemaker who could not be kept in any one faculty job too long.

At onetime or another he held faculty positions or ran programs at Union Seminary, Loyola University New Orleans, Columbia, Cornell and Yale. Eventually he settled into a long tenure at Fordham, the Jesuit university in the Bronx, where for a time he had the title of poet in residence.

Father Berrigan was released from the Danbury penitentiary in 1972; the Jesuits, alarmed at his failing health, managed to get him out early. He then resumed his travels.

After visiting the Middle East, he bluntly accused Israel of “militarism” and the “domestic repressions” of Palestinians. His remarks angered many American Jews. “Let us call this by its right name,” wrote Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, himself a contentious figure among religious scholars: “old-fashioned theological anti-Semitism.”

Nor was Father Berrigan universally admired by Catholics. Many faulted him for not singling out repressive Communist states in his diatribes against the world order, and later for not lending his voice to the outcry over sexual abuse by priests. There was also a sense that his notoriety was a distraction from the religious work that needed to be done.

Not the least of his long-running battles was with the church hierarchy. He was scathing about the shift to conservatism under Pope John Paul II and the “company men” he appointed to high positions.

Much of Father Berrigan’s later work was concentrated on helping AIDS patients in New York City. In 2012, he appeared in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan to support the Occupy Wall Street protest.

He also devoted himself to writing biblical studies. He felt a special affinity for the Hebrew prophets, especially Jeremiah, who was chosen by God to warn of impending disaster and commanded to keep at it, even though no one would listen for 40 years.

A brother, Jerry, died in July at age 95, and another brother, Philip, died in 2002 at age 79.

Father Berrigan seemed to reach a poet’s awareness of his place in the scheme of things, and that of his brother Philip, who left the priesthood for a married life of service to the poor and spent a total of 11 years in prison for disturbing the peace in one way or another before his death from cancer in 2002. While they both still lived, Daniel Berrigan wrote:
My brother and I stand like the fences
of abandoned farms, changed times
too loosely webbed against
deicide homicide
A really powerful blow
would bring us down like scarecrows.
Nature, knowing this, finding us mildly useful
indulging also
her backhanded love of freakishness
allows us to stand.

Christopher Mele contributed reporting. 

Copy and Paste from NYTimes Sunday May 1, 2016. Not my property. I will delete if requested.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Saturday: Mixed

Scorpions in an unusually early season invasion of yards and homes in Arizona. There are tarantulas too, I know, horror of my existence. What nightmare or wicked touch of mischief made God create eight-leggeddies. 

In this blog I’ve reported that after we moved from our SanDiego home to Columbus, Ohio in 1971, a neighbor wrote that the new owners of our house had found a tarantula in the garage. OMG …

Saturday morning on fogged-in StAndrewsBay, a happy hour in another world researching a Packard that son Joe texted me on April 3rd and I held off checking it out until time to thoroughly enjoy. It’s a coupe from the second half of the 1930s, a five-year era when Packard capitalized on a beautifully designed front end, fenders, headlights, hood, vents, and especially the tall, thin radiator shell of the front grill with classic Packard shape, curves, style, design. 

No cars in American history have been more perfect to gaze on and love. This morning I studied Packards from 1935 through 1941 and narrowed it down to a 1939 Packard 120 club coupe, telling Joe I could be off a year either way but I don’t think so. He and a neighbor have breakfast out every Saturday morning, and he often runs across an old car and snaps pics for me to enjoy and to identify. This one gave me the most work and therefore the most enjoyment.

Sad this morning to let NYT stir anger, but exercising the right and province of a grouchy old man. Happy to withdraw into a world of Packards. Ask the man who owns one.