Friday, August 30, 2013

Deming Place, Springfield, Missouri (Postcard Series)

Deming and Bitting Homes and Family Businesses » 700 Title – Springfield, Missouri. (Sharon's Family History Site, 7/27/2011)

On This Date in 1998

This may seem like an odd thing to say, but I can’t believe that August isn’t over with yet. And that’s not meant to be a complaint. Four weeks ago, Andy was playing in a baseball tournament in Reedsburg, JoAnna and Eddie were at the Richard family reunion, and the boys and I were a day away from our trip to Pennsylvania. It just seems like so much has happened this month, much more than what should logically fit into a 31-day period. Actually, this entire summer has been a most enjoyable and expansive experience, one that has had an unusually carefree aspect to it, as if the passage of time was of no concern to me. That description could easily fit my summer between 4th and 5th grades.

The boys were on their own during the day for the 2½ weeks before the start of school. The day camp program we enrolled them in this summer ended in August 7th, and we didn’t make any other arrangements for child care. So JoAnna and I decided to put our faith in Andy’s sense of responsibility. The library being only 5 blocks from the house certainly helped to make our decision an easier one. After their first day alone, we had to reinforce some guidelines, such as keeping their activities to the kitchen and family room side of the house. When I came home for lunch, I discovered that they had spent some time in every room of the house. They left behind visible signs of their presence everywhere – a rumpled comforter in their parents’ bedroom, pillow laid out in a baseball diamond in the living room, to cite two examples. Throughout the 2½ weeks, I had to constantly remind the boys to clean up their debris – toys, dishes, clothes – every parent’s losing battle. Overall, though, it was a successful experiment. For the most part, the boys got along very well together. Andy has a tendency to pick on his little brother, but it’s never anything malicious or hurtful.

Right now JoAnna and I are enjoying a quiet afternoon. I just spent about an hour organizing a couple hundred loose postage stamps into a stock book, stamps that date mostly from the 1920s and 1930s and were a gift to me from my Grandma Luthgren. (I’ve managed to hold onto them all these years.) JoAnna’s watching this sappy movie on TV, My Six Loves, starring Debbie Reynolds and Cliff Robertson (not to mention supporting roles by Eileen Heckart, David Janssen, and even a bit role by the actress who played the nosy neighbor on Bewitched and the kid actor who played the adopted brother on My Three Sons.) The boys and four other neighborhood tykes were playing in the garage. Andy had asked us if they could play Hide-and-Go-Seek in the house. I let out a shudder before responding with a firm “No!”

“It’s too nice of a day to play indoors,” I explained further. And indeed it is a gorgeous day – bright sunshine, hardly a cloud in the sky, temperature in the mid-70s with no trace of the uncomfortable humidity we’ve been experiencing lately. It makes me wonder why I’m sitting in front of the computer right now. 

Today’s weather is a carbon copy of yesterday’s. Andy’s football team played a series of 15-minute scrimmages between 1 and 3 p.m. They’d run a series offensive plays until it was time to play against another team. Then they’d be on defense. They didn’t play a single game against one opponent, more like a patchwork of 6 quarters against different opponents. It felt so different watching Andy in full gear playing football as opposed to watching him play soccer or football. He really seems to enjoy football and looks very confident, like he really knows what he’s doing on the field. Since our return from Pennsylvania, he’s had 12 practices, or 4 per week. Next week, with school in session, they’ll practice on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday evenings, from 5:00 to 6:45. His first game is scheduled for Saturday, September 12. The season runs for 7 weeks.

Eddie is playing soccer again this fall. He’s had three practices already, with another one scheduled for later this afternoon. Most of his games are scheduled on Wednesdays and Saturdays, so there will be a conflict on the weekends with Andy’s games.

Two days into the school year, Eddie had his first trip to the principal’s office. His class had a picnic on Friday, and he started throwing food around. His teacher told him that this wasn’t an appropriate behavior, and that he’d have to go inside if he did the same thing again. A few minutes later, she observed Eddie bent over and shaking his booty in front of some of his classmates’ faces, “as if he were mooning them”, as she describe it to me when I returned her telephone call. After this second incident, Eddie had a chat with Mr. Mavrolis, Elm Lawn’s principal. During my phone conversation with Eddie’s teacher, she mentioned that from the hallway she could observe Eddie walking around the classroom while the rest of her students remained seated at their desks. Based on his kindergarten and 1st grade experiences, this is typical Eddie behavior. As a result of Eddie’s misbehavior, I made an appointment with his pediatrician, as we had never followed up with him about the Ritalin blind test that was administered during the last quarter of this past school year. Obviously, we are going to continue to have some behavioral problems with Eddie this year. I hope that the special reading program he is participating in will have some positive result before the end of the year. I know a part of Eddie’s frustration in school has to do with his inability to read. But I also think he has a “class clown” personality. He likes to be “on” and enjoys the attention he receives from his classmates. 

We were very proud to discover that one of Eddie’s artworks, one that was exhibited in a schoolwide art show last spring, is featured in this year’s school calendar – on the September page, no less. I think extra copies of the calendar are available at the school distinct office, so I’ll s top by tomorrow and pick up a copy to accompany this letter.

We’ve been serenaded by a barking dog this weekend, both Friday and Saturday nights as well as during the day, but it’s the nighttime noise, of course, that is the more irritating. Our neighbor, the single guy who works for CUNA, recently bought himself a boat and he and his new boyfriend are away somewhere this weekend on a christening cruise. The dog, a brown Akita, has been left on his own, and he’s not very happy about it. I actually called the police this afternoon, if for no other reason than to make sure they’d have a record of this disturbance. Someone who leaves a dog on its own for 48 hours doesn’t know much about taking care of animals. The dog almost succeeded in digging an escape route under the wooden fence next to the garage. The devil in me was tempted to unlatch the gate and let the dog escape. Those of us who lost sleep over the weekend wonder how someone who’s always been a good neighbor since he moved here 5-6 years ago could be so inconsiderate of his neighbors all of a sudden. This morning I woke up shortly after 2:00, the quiet soon shattered by the dog’s sometime hysterical barks. Trying to escape the noise, I moved myself to the family room, closed all the windows, turned the fan to the medium setting to provide some white noise, and wished I had a pair of ear plugs. Fortunately, I was able to fall back asleep within a half hour.

How are things going with you? Have you made any plans for this winter? We plan to visit my folks during the Christmas holiday, but we haven’t decided on the exact dates of our trip yet. I have a weird feeling that this may be my dad’s last Christmas.

We’re all doing well and keeping busy here. (So what else is new?!)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

High School, Antigo, Wisconsin (Postcard Series)

Antigo, WI High School Fire, Jan 1916.  ANTIGO, Wis., Jan. 6. - The $100,000 high school building, the pride of the city, was totally destroyed by fire early this morning.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Wayne Miller (1941-2013) Warren High School Class of 1959

From the 1959 Warren High School Dragon yearbook

Wayne reached its peak of popularity in 1946.  It currently ranks 780 out of 1000.

One of the top songs when the class of '59 graduated.

The House of the Seven Gables (Postcard Series)

On This Date in 1998

We are suffering through some uncomfortable weather. Since the middle of last week, hot and sticky conditions have settled in like an unwanted guest. Yesterday JoAnna and I could find no relief even with all the fans blowing. I sat outside in the shade and read for awhile during the late afternoon, but it actually seemed cooler indoors. Andy was the only smart one among us. He went to the pool during the evening. Sitting at the kitchen table in front of her laptop computer, JoAnna was working on some campaign stuff that she needed to finish for today. I thought I’d mow the lawn but wasn’t in the mood to sweat more than I already had. Eddie vegged out in front of the TV, having spent an hour and a half on his rollerblades earlier in the day.

Middleton’s Good Neighbor Fest took place this past weekend. The family made a visit to Fireman’s Park, where the food tents and rides and everything else are set up, after Andy’s football practice Friday evening, which meant we didn’t get there until 8:00. While the boys explored the midway area, JoAnna and I had a fish fry at one of the food concessions, played four games of bingo (no winners(, and visited the beer tent (where we just had one apiece). I had given Andy $20 as a reward for his responsible behavior during the week, staying home with Eddie and avoiding any disastrous consequences as a result of this experiment. I gave Eddie $10. How much did the boys have at the end of the evening? $0. This was another experiment, one in which I was pretty confident of the outcome. I just knew the boys would blow it all in one outing. In the future, I’ll ration their financial rewards.

I worked on Saturday, my first (and only) weekend assignment this summer. JoAnna and Eddie accompanied Andy to his weigh-in for football. On the first day of practice, August 11th, Andy weighed 105 pounds. Since then he’s dropped two pounds, which means that he can play any position on the team. 105 is the cut-off, i.e., anyone who weight more can only play an offensive or defensive lineman position. Considering all the food that Andy has packed away since our return from Warren, I have to conclude that Andy is burning up a lot of calories at his football practices. His midsection seems to be firming up; it’s not as gelatinous as it was even halfway through the summer. The jelly belly is disappearing.

JoAnna was in a lethargic mood when I returned home from work late Saturday afternoon.

“I could never live in the South,” she said, an indirect reference to the oppressive weather. Nevertheless, around 7 o’clock, she joined me on a walk to the library, where I picked up and wheeled back home an antique book cart that was going to be used in the Good Neighbor Fest parade. We didn’t eat supper until after 8. I picked up some sautéed vegetables and rice at our favorite Chinese restaurant and McDonald’s for the still gastronomically fussy boys. They love those chicken McNuggets.

JoAnna and I attended the mayor’s breakfast Sunday morning, a traditional Good Neighbor Fest event to which department heads, local elected officials, committee members, and their spouses are invited. The new city administrator was introduced to the group, as he had just accepted the position the previous day. He won’t start his duties here until early November. He was my first choice, so I was very pleased that he found Middleton to his liking. He’s currently the city administrator of Evansville, a community of 4,000 about 20 miles south of here. If you recall, we walked in their parade earlier in the summer to distribute campaign literature for Jon Erpenbach.

As we did last year, a library contingent walked in the parade this year. Two of us carried a banner (“There’s No Place Like the Middleton Public Library”, tying in with this year’s fest theme of “There’s No Place Like Home”, three other pushed book carts (two new models plus the antique one that were loaded with books discarded from the Friends of the Library sale), and the rest of us distributed candy. We wore tan shirts emblazoned with a picture of the sun and the words “Middleton Public Library” and black baseball caps with the library’s name in yellow lettering, The parade route extended for about a mile and a half, and we walked it in 90-degree heat and high humidity. Fortunately, there was a rather strong breeze that provided us with some relief, but most of the group seemed pretty well beat by the time we reached the end of the route.

So between Walkfit and walking in the parade, I certainly got my exercise in for the day. Except for a few minor indoor chores and a trip to the grocery store, I didn’t do much bur read about 100 pages of another book by Russell Banks, the author who is giving the keynote address at the Wisconsin Library Association fall conference and whose books I plan to have read by that time. Rule of the Bone, published in 1995, is a coming-of-age story centering on the adventures of a 14-year-old homeless boy (although in the first chapter he still resides with his mother and step-father) who lives in the eastern Adirondack region of New York state. The book has been very favorably compared to Catcher in the Rye. Earlier in the week, I finished Banks’ epic (758-page) Cloudsplitter, which has sparked an interest on my part in the life of the abolitionist John Brown. Not that I wouldn’t recommend either of these two books, Mom, but there is another title I wanted to bring to your attention, a book I listened to earlier this summer. Snow Falling on Cedars is set in the year 1954 on San Juan Island in the state of Washington. The story centers on the murder of a German-American fisherman and the arrest of a Japanese-American resident of the island and is complicated by a previous conflict their families had over a small parcel of land. It’s a beautifully written book wherein character development takes precedence over the plot. And the story’s ending is very satisfying. The book has been made into a movie, which is to be released sometime in December.

School starts in three days, although on Wednesday JoAnna and I will attend 1½-hour orientations in both boys’ classrooms. We’re hoping Andy will have a good year, that he’ll keep up on all of his homework and generally develop a more serious attitude about school than he did last spring, when his third-quarter grades demonstrated a lackadaisical attitude which we found troubling. My gut feeling with Eddie is that we are still going to have problems until his reading skills are on a par with the rest of his classmates. He gets so frustrated with himself sometime, to the point where he just shuts down and wont’ respond to his teacher or, as was the case last Thursday, with the tutor that we scheduled 4 sessions with prior to the beginning of school (at $40 a crack). This fall he’ll still be involved in a special program with the teacher’s reading and speech teachers 30-45 minutes each day. I just hope that Eddie can make his reading breakthrough before the end of the year.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Motor Boat Club, Silver Creek, New York (Postcard Series)

Weather not so great on Memorial Day 1970.  I would have been in Minneapolis at this time, living at 3026 Lake Street, not yet employed at the downtown Dayton's Department Store, a member of the after-hours maintenance crew.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

On This Date in 1998

A Tuesday postscript.

During the month prior to our Warren visit, I had been meaning to write a note to Rick Dies, a high-school classmate and perennial member of the reunion planning committee. I wanted to ask him if I could buy a copy of the publication that contains biographical information that members of the class of ’68 send in. I enjoyed paging through the copy I received at the 1988 reunion, finding out where people lived, where they worked, whether they had children, what they liked to do.

Last Friday when I returned home from my meeting in La Crosse, I noticed a large manila envelope sticking out of the mailbox. The name on the return address was Rick Dies.

“Well, whaddya know, he read my mind, I thought, knowing what was in the envelope without having to open it first.

He enclosed a short note that mentioned the low turnout. Obviously, the committee ended up with extra copies of the biographies publication and decided to mail them out to some classmates who were unable to attend the reunion. I was pleased to be remembered.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Artwork by Eddie

The first week of the boys being home alone proved to be a successful experiment. We didn’t regret our decision and now feel confident that Andy is mature enough to care for his younger brother. No more babysitters! The boys still have lots of room for improvement, though. JoAnna and I had to tell them – repeatedly – that our bedroom was off limited. Why they need to watch TV there when we have two other TVs in the house I can’t understand. We also had to remind them – again repeatedly – that the kitchen is the only room in the house where they can eat. It’s very easy to learn whether or not they’ve broken this rule. They’re not very good at cleaning up after themselves, scattered pieces of popcorn and cracker crumbs giving away their habit of grazing throughout the house. This rule, I’m afraid, is one that will need much reinforcement.

Andy survived his first week of football practice with ease. In fact, he very much enjoyed it. His team is already learning plays. On Thursday, he brought home a sheet with the diagrams of more than a dozen different offensive plays. I think he was supposed to study the over the weekend, but the piece of paper remained in the car until Sunday afternoon when I hand-delivered it to him and suggested he might want to prepare for Monday’s practice.

“I will, Dad,” he said, somewhat impatiently.

The sheet remained on the kitchen counter for the rest of the day.

I traveled to La Crosse on Friday for a Wisconsin Library Association board meeting at the Radisson Hotel. The August board meting is always held at the site of the next year’s conference. As a safety precaution, Andy checks in with me by phone twice a day at the library, so JoAnna reminded him, as I did numerous times Thursday evening, that I would be out of town all day when she left for work. La Crosse being a 2½-hour drive from Middleton, I left the house at 6:45, before the boys were out of bed. I figured that if anything was going to go wrong with this independent arrangement, this would be the day. Around two o’clock, the boys left the house and walked the two blocks to Walgreen’s to buy some candy. How do I know this? I found their empty bag with the sales receipt inside. Two Three Musketeers bars. Two packages of Starburst. (There’s something to be said for computer systems that can itemize individual purchases.) They had finished a bag of Chips Ahoy Thursday evening and needed something to satisfy their craving for sweets.

When they returned home, they found the front screen door locked. (My fault, I think. The only key Andy has is to the front inside door. (They would have exited the house by the side door. (Using good sense, the boys walked across the street to a neighbor’s house and called JoAnna at work. She drove home to let them in. I was pleased that the boys handled this situation so calmly.

Friday evening, JoAnna and I attended a catered picnic at Lakeview Park. This informal gathering provided an opportunity for council members and department heads to meet with the two candidates for the position of Middleton City Administrator. (The previous administrator retired last month.) Earlier in the summer, I had pushed for an opportunity for department heads to have some input in the hiring process. I succeeded, but unfortunately, a series of rotating interviews involving department heads was scheduled for this past Friday, when I was in La Crosse. Just so they would get some exposure to the library, I had a staff member give each candidate a tour. I learned from one of the council members on Saturday afternoon that the candidate I preferred was offered the position.

Saturday morning, the family did a “lit drop” for Rick Phelps, “our” candidate for the 2nd congressional district, delivering a campaign brochure to every residence in the 1st aldermanic district in Middleton. The boys, wearing their rollerblades, joined us during the first hour of this volunteer task. Eddie took a hard tumble on a cracked sidewalk, and though he was able to shake it off, he wanted to go home once we finished the area north of University Avenue. JoAnna and I took another hour to complete the area south of University, including a 10-minute rest stop at the Bavaria Restaurant, so she could have a cup of coffee. I quenched my thirst with a large glass of grapefruit juice.

As a reward for our efforts, JoAnna took us out to lunch at Pasqual’s, a restaurant that specializes in southwestern cuisine. Tired or ordering my usual chicken fajita burrito, I tried the beef quesadilla and think I may have found a new favorite. JoAnna usually orders a chicken taco salad when we eat here and didn’t change her ways on Saturday. Andy is partial to the double beef and bean taco. Eddie is happy with a hot dog off the kid’s menu.

During the afternoon, I sat on the bench along the south side of the house and read 50 pages of Cloudsplitter, the latest book by Russell Banks, who will be giving the keynote address at this year’s WLA conference, and enjoyed the scenery, something I rarely get to do. Due to our busy schedules, the bench is usually nothing more than a decorative touch. The boys alternated between watching TV and rollerblading. JoAnna napped and then finished up a couple of small, isolated neighborhoods that we had missed during the morning.

The boys were rollerblading fiends this past weekend. Not only were they outside a lot, but they also lobbied for a trip Saturday evening to Fast Forward, a indoor skating rink, but JoAnna said she was too tired for rollerblading and I’m too wobbly to venture out onto hard, slippery floor where kids are speeding around in circles. We ended up going bowling at the Sport Bowl, located two blocks from where we live. We rolled two games, no bumper pads this time. Nobody set the lanes on fire.

Although I had been keeping a tight grip on my wallet, I agreed with the rest of the family that we would go out to eat afterwards. After some debate, we agreed on Old Chicago, a pizza and pasta place, one of our regular haunts. Barb would have liked our waiter; he looked like Andre Agassi before he lost his hair and got pudgy. Once we returned home, we played 5/6s of a round of Trivial Pursuit, the blue-izers against the brown-izers. By 10:30 we were all ready for bed, and it would have taken us another half hour to finish the game. The brown-izers won.

The nighttime calm didn’t last too long. Eddie woke up in the middle of the night, crying hysterically. JoAnna got out of bed first.

“What’s wrong?” she asked him pleadingly.

“I don’t know,” he said repeatedly, whenever we tried to get at what was bothering him. Did he have a nightmare? Was he sick? He wouldn’t tell us anything.

In exasperation, unable to calm him down, we just left him alone. I returned to the bedroom and JoAnna sacked out on the couch in the family room. Andy, if I recall, slept through all this hubbub. When I got out of bed at 7:30, after a very restless sleep, I found Eddie in his own bed, a rare occurrence lately. Everyone else was still sleeping. I retrieved the Sunday papers from the front stoop and stretched out on the living room couch and read. Eddie was the first to stir; he had to go to the bathroom. I intercepted him as she started to walk across the living room and guided him back to his bedroom. I talked to him about what happened during the night and emphasized the fact Mom and Dad become worried if he can’t tell us what is wrong when he is upset. I thought he should get some more sleep, which he did. He didn’t get up for good until after 9:00.

Sunday was a day to catch up on chores around (inside and outside) the house. Laundry, cleaning, shopping, yard work. As they did on Saturday, the boys either watched TV or rollerbladed, their destination being Elm Lawn School, where they usually ran into friends of Andy’s. I think they went through this cycle at least four times. They were always home within an hour of one of their departures, though. They spent most of the early evening at a neighbor’s house playing with a boy Eddie’s age. Surprisingly, because of their proximity, Eddie and Adam don’t get together that often but always seem to get along well when they do.

We’re all in good health. The boys seem increasingly eager for school to start. I think they are getting a little bored living an unstructured life.

Monday, August 12, 2013

On This Date in 1998

I wanted a change ot scene so I drove an alternative route during most of the trip back to Middleton. I took one of my favorite (and most familiar) stretches of highway in Pennsylvania, U.S. 62 between the Buckaloons and Oil City. To pass the time, the boys and I played a game of Jeopardy. Andy picked the categories – psorts, states, cities, (musical) groups, movies, TV shows – and I made up the questions. Groups for $300. What group sang about Michelle, Anna, and Lady Madonna? The Beatles, an answer the boys missed, as they are more familiar with the earliest Beatles songs. Sports for $200. What quarterback led the Green Bay Packers to their first two Super Bowl victories? Andy knew it was Bart Starr.

After a pit stop at the Barkleyville interchange, we hopped onto Interstate 80 and soon found ourselves crawling along at less than 10 miles an hour due to a road construction delay. It felt as though we were in rush hour traffic. Fortunately, it lasted for only 15 minutes.

We took U.S. 30 through the western half of Ohio, the first 1090 miles a mostly straight stretch of two-lane highway except for bypasses around Bucyrus and Upper Sandusky. Traffic was moderate but moved along at a pace just above the speed limit. Our destination was Van Wert, just 13 miles east of the Indiana state line. But with light still in the skiy and my butt glued to the driver’s seat, we continued onward to the west side of Fort Wayne and checked into a Holiday Inn with a pool and activity area, just like South Bend, much to the boys’ delight. We played around in a swimming pool strewn with big plastic noodles, which was helpful for Eddie since the water was 7 feet deep at one end. Andy and I played ping-pong, and I bought the boys $5 worth of tokens to play video games. Back in the room ,the boys settled in front of the TV (big surprise!) while I went out to find a convenient drive-through. A McDonald’s was located less than a block away.

We continued our trip at 9 a.m. Monday morning. We drove 20 miles west on U.S. 30, which is a four-land divided highway across the length of Indiana, before stopping for breakfast at a Bob Evans in Columbia City. Eddie ordered pancakes off the kids’ menu but ate only two bites, plus the one strip of bacon served with his order. He seemed lethargic and slightly pale, so I wondered if he might be coming down with something. Andy ordered lunch, a kids’ pizza with alphabet-shaped deep-fried potatoes, and a lemonade, which he found too sour for his taste. I considered an omelet, but everything pictured on the colorful menu looked like too much food, so I settled for an order of 2 eggs over easy, fried potatoes, and toast. Eddie did eat one piece of my toast.

The trip through Chicago around noontime was a breeze. No delays anywhere. The section of Interstate 94 that arcs around Chicago was a different story. The portion of the highway we saw in northwestern Indiana was moving at a snail’s pace. And the traffic looked to be mostly semis. In an interesting, but frustrating reversal of typical road conditions, the loser we got to Rockford, the worse the traffic became. It seemed to be a combination of stalled vehicles and road construction. The delays caused us to push back our expected time of arrival 45 minutes. Originally, I had predicted 2:30. We pulled into the driveway at 3:10.

The boys immediately plopped themselves in front of the TV while I unloaded the car, unpacked the suitcases, started a load of wash, and then removed an assortment of debris – gum wrappers, half-empty bottles of Mountain Dew, little football and baseball helmets, crumpled napkins, etc. – from every surface of the Saturn. At 5:00, we left for Cross Plains, so Andy could pick up his football equipment. At first I thought I’d hear a complaint from Eddie, but he almost sprang off the couch when I told him it was time to leave.

This excursion took longer than I expected. We didn’t return home until 7:00. Along with Eddie, the back seat contained a helmet, jersey, pants, shoulder pads, knee pads, hip pads, and a tailbone pad. Did I forget anything? When Andy had put on all his gear, just to make sure everything fit, he looked as though he had aged a quick two years.

JoAnna, of course, was happy to see us all. After she made some phone calls for one of her candidates and I did some grocery shopping, the four of us went out to Dairy Queen for a treat.

I was up early Tuesday morning g. At 5:30. Already back into the routine, what with laundry and shopping Monday evening, I was on the Walkfit before 6:00, listening to music and watching Sport Center with the sound off. For the first time this summer, I was the first to arrive at work. I was at my desk a few minutes past 7:00. I had lots of mail to look through, 380 email messages waiting for me (most of which I immediately clicked into the trash), then prepared myself for the three meetings I would be attending during the day: Dane County librarians in the morning, Wisconsin Library Association Personnel Committee in the early afternoon, and a library board meeting in the evening. It was a long day. The boys went to work with JoAnna as Andy had a physical at 10:15. We had to schedule one with our previous pediatrician, who now practices in Fitchburg, a south suburb of Madison, as our current one was booked into October when I called for an appointment three weeks ago. Andy had to have a physical before his first practice yesterday, and, to my great relief, the Middleton Clinic made the referral for us. Otherwise, I would have had to get down on my knees and beg and plead.

The boys spent the first half of the afternoon at home alone. When I stopped by for lunch after my second emoting, it was obvious that they had been occupying every room of the house at one time or another.

“Why do you guys have to watch TV in our bedroom?” I asked them in exasperation, after picking up a half-empty glass of milk in the bathroom, the residue of Chips Ahoy cookies on the surface of the milk and sides of the glass.

I wanted to get back to work but waited around until Andy’s ride to practice arrived. I was afraid he would forget the form the doctor signed, certifying that he was fit to play. And sure enough, he would have. It might have been a good lesson for him to watch the practice from the sidelines.

Eddie didn’t want to accompany me to the library, so I dropped him off at his chosen destination. The Middleton pool, which provide a convenient “babysitting” service. JoAnna picked him up there. After the two of them had something to eat, they went to pick up Andy and Drew at practice. I couldn’t wait to get home to ask how things went, so I called JoAnna right after the board meeting adjourned at 7:45.

“He liked it,” she reported. “He looked really good. I’m surprised how fast he is.”

Andy always complained whenever he had to run the mile in 3rd and 4th grade gym class, and running is a big portion of this week’s football practices.

“We didn’t only do running, Dad”, Andy told me during a conversation about his first practice after I returned home from work. Before going to sleep, he clipped stories and statistical summaries from the day’s sports pages of The Capital Times and taped them on one of the walls next to his bed. Close to ten o’clock, he was still wearing his practice jersey, although he didn’t wear it to bed.

Eddie still isn’t sleeping in his own room. He slept on the floor next to his brother’s bed last night and on the futon on the night before. Yesterday evening, he started to work on a large drawing with a prehistoric theme (i.e., dinosaurs, which haven’t been in his repertoire lately.)

It sure didn’t take long to get back into the old swing of things.

The boys and I enjoyed our visit. Last night, JoAnna suggested, without prompting, that we go to Pennsylvania for Christmas, but we haven’t work out the dates yet.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Robert Swanson (1940-2013) Warren High School Class of 1958

The #1 song when the class of '58 graduated.

Robert as a popular baby name.
  • In the top 10 from 1880 to 1989 (except for 1881 and 1887, when it managed to rank just 11th.)
  • The #1 name from 1924 to 1939.
  • Has experienced a slow, gradual slide since 1989.

William Massa (1927-2013) Warren High School Class of 1945

Warren Times Observer

1944 Dragon yearbook (junior class)

The #1 song when the class of '45 graduated.

William, an eternally popular name, or so it seems.

It was the second most popular name from 1880 to 1920.   (Popular Baby Names)

On This Date in 1998

Since today is a carbon copy of yesterday, we’re back at the beach – Kinzua Dam again as flotation devices are not permitted at Chapman Dam. Barb didn’t join us today, complaining of a sunburn, actually a little bit of redness on the upper left side of her chest area. But thanks to Barb, the boys and I came better prepared today. She found a rubber raft in the attic and bought a pail and shovel set, the three “shovels” able to be used a squirt guns. We also brought along beach footwear, so we didn’t have to repeat yesterday’s painful trek along 40 feet of stones to get to the water. The bottoms of my feet are a little sore today, and it feels like there is a bruise in the middle of my right sole.

Unable to continue with Sara Paretsky’s latest book, a major disappointment, I purchased a copy of Cloudsplitter, a 700-page epic by Russell Banks based on the lives of John Brown and his offspring. Banks will be the keynote speaker at this year’s WLA conference, and I promised myself I would read this latest book of his by then. Might as well get started now, I told myself, after finding no other titles by Banks on the shelves. It’s a book that you might enjoy as it deals with Bloody Kansas, the raid on Harpers Ferry, and other events leading up to the Civil War, part of a 300-year conflict that the author refers to as the War Between the Races. After reading 40 pages, I think it’s safe to state that this is a well-researched, well-imagined, and well-written book.

I’m surprised my retreat to the blanket hasn’t been interrupted, but Andy, untypically, is enjoying being on his own. He’s at the water’s edge, inspecting stones, or so it looks from here. Eddie is on the raft, paddling himself around with one of the shovels. Andy and I tossed the Frisbee back and forth for awhile, until my right contact popped out of my eye after two consecutive dives as I tried to make a spectacular catches of Andy’s errant throws. Both times, to my great relief, I was able to pluck the lens from my eyelids.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

On This Date in 1998

The first two days in Warren were hazy and humid, but today is perfect beach weather with a warming sun and a cooling breeze. Taking advantage of this great weather, Barb and the boys and I are hanging out at Kinzua Dam. Due to the lack of rain for much of the summer here, the water level is low, which has reduced the areas marked off for swimming, but it’s a sparse turnout so there’s plenty of room for everybody. I bought a Frisbee prior to our departure, which Andy is now using to collect stones.

I didn’t wear my watch this afternoon, so I don’t have any idea what time it is. The boys have been in the water much of the time. Some kids lent them rubber tubs to float around on, so they are enjoying themselves right now. Andy and I brought along our gloves and a ball and played catch for awhile. You’d think he’d be sick of baseball by now.

We ended up spending four hours at Kinzua Beach. I should have swum lengths while the boys were playing but preferred to be lazy and stretch out on the blanket Barb brought along. I talked with Barb about Dad, as his mental deterioration is much more noticeable now than it was in March. She says he’s “out of it” pretty much all of the time now. Sometimes he can’t find his way to the bathroom. One evening at dinner, he looked at Mom and asked, “Who are you?” Mom replied, “I’m your wife, Carl. We’ve been married 53 years.” “I don’t believe you,” he said. Last night while some of us were still at the dinner table and others were in the living room watching TV, I heard Mom say, “You can’t take your clothes off here.” At first I thought she was talking to Eddie because I could see where Andy was. W hat happened though was that Dad had unbuttoned his shirt and was ready to undo his pants. According to Barb, this is a regular occurrence. While Mom finished cleaning the kitchen, Dad stood in the bathroom in his undershirt and pants. After a long interval, he asked where his glasses were. He accused Mom of taking them. While she was leading him to his bed, I heard her call out, “Carl, stop doing that! Stop doing that, Carl!” He was trying to hit her, but in his enfeebled state wasn’t able to do that. I got up from where I was sitting in the living room – the boys were upstairs taking a bath at this time – and walked to the threshold of the kitchen. I felt so helpless. I didn’t need to intercede, of course, but this scene, most of which I had only heard, filled me with the strangest sensation.

Mom filled me in on Barb’s prospects yesterday during a late-afternoon conversation. She’ll be providing child care for a couple who own a restaurant downtown three days a week, three hours a day. S he may have an option for more extended employment in the fall, assisting a woman who is recovering from a serious car accident. Mom, of course, would like to see Barb get a “real” job, i.e. one with health coverage, specifically. “We’re not going to be around to take care of her forever,” she said. I think she’s more concerned about Barb’s long-term prospects than she lets on.

I should have added one important piece of information about Dad’s undressing. I don’t think Mom mentioned this in any of her letters this summer. Dad recently had a bad case of shingles. According to Barb’s more detailed description, almost the entire left side of his body was covered with a very painful rash. Fortunately, the medication his doctor prescribes for him worked quickly and effectively. But while he was suffering from shingles, I’m sure his clothes were mostly an unwanted irritation.

After too many stays at the Warren County Jail, Dale seems to have experienced a true reformation. Outside of his passion for cars, his life is solitary. Watching TV in his bedroom serves as his only recreational activity. Otherwise, he’s at Shultz, or in the garage, working on cars, an activity at which he is indisputably the master. At least he found his calling. Wait until you see the picture of a 1984 Monte Carol he rebuilt. Its bright whiteness gleams like a vain Hollywood star’s smile. He’s talking about selling the car – for Dale, there’s always another junker to rehabilitate – and if I had the money and a protective storage space, I’d be first in line. If he ever charged for the time he puts into remaking these vehicles, he could retire. But a life of leisure is not his goal.

Monday, August 5, 2013

This afternoon I’m on the porch of 4 East Third. There’s more traffic noise here, obviously, but otherwise things are pretty quiet. The boys are upstairs watching TV. Andy and I just finished a game of catch, my throwing him pop-ups that he had to catch without stepping beyond the sidewalk that runs between the side of the house and the garage. Earlier in the afternoon, I took a ride on Dale’s bike around the east side of Warren, and then north on the bike-hike trail to the State Hospital in North Warren and back. My butt was very sore when I finished. I think the seat is a little too high, even for my long legs. I started reading Sara Paretsky’s latest book, Ghost Country, not one of the V. I. Warshawski series. After four chapters, I’m ready to put it aside. I find the writing style very irritating. It’s as if Paretsky is trying too hard to do something different. I was going to look for a better read at the Book Rack during my bike ride, but the store closes at 1:00 on Wednesday.

Barb has been working on various projects around the hose. She recently finished the downstairs bathroom, stripping off the busy wallpaper that I always thought was such an odd choice for such a small room, painting it a color that’s hard to describe (it’s not an off-white, more of a cream and beige blend) and then adding a border where the walls and the cupboards meet the ceiling. She’s currently repainting the front porch and her fastidious approach to this project will probably keep her busy with it through the end of the month. She also cleaned and repainted the walls leading from the kitchen to the basement but is still working on the steps. What she is doing around the house is certainly not frivolous. They are long overdue projects that Dad never tackled when he was healthy and Mom would never have the interest in or energy for. The bathroom looks much improved, especially with the new washer and dryer, which have an almost aerodynamic design. What I can’t figure out is why she wants to continue to live her life in semi-seclusion. It’s not like she can’t get along with people. Lynn just stopped by with Scottie and Marisa, and she and Lynn had what sounded like a pleasant, unforced conversation for 15 minutes. Scottie’s here while Lynn takes Marisa to the dentist. Barb just tried to get the boys to play outside, but Andy and Eddie are such drones right now.

Andy complained of having a sore throat yesterday so I bought him some lozenges. It’s better now, he says, but after two different symptoms in two days (a headache on Monday), I’m keeping close tabs on his well-being.

It’s only Wednesday, but already it feels as though I’ve been here for a week. That both is and isn’t a complaint, depending upon which part of my brain I stroll through.

Look forward to seeing you on Monday.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Old Mission Church, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Historic Mission Church

On This Date in 1998

It’s the middle of the afternoon and I’m enjoying the view from the deck of Larry and Kim’s cabin. Except for the boys, it’s very peaceful out here. After lunch we went miniature golfing and then stopped at County Market to buy a few things to have on hand: cereal, milk, pop tarts (the first of which was just downed by Eddie), microwave popcorn, orange juice and a 6-pack of Mountain Dew.

It’s a much more comfortable and relaxing environment staying out here. It makes a big difference now that the eating area has been transformed into dad’s bedroom. The dining room can’t serve the same informal purpose, a place where Dale can eat lunch, Eddie can draw or build Legos, and Grandma can work on her crossword puzzle with the TV droning in the background. He can shuffle from room to room on his own power. I haven’t seen him use his wheelchair much yet. It’s obvious that since my last visit he has retreated farther into the solitary world that Parkinson’s has boxed him into. I’m sure it’s not intentional, but Mom addresses him like a child whenever she attends to him. Speaking more slowly and clearly than she usually does. Repeating questions. Stretching out a pause to what for me is an uncomfortable length as she awaits a response, which she manages to understand but is usually incomprehensively garbled to me. When I was the boys’ ages, I could never cut through the thick accent of Grandpa Nelson’s English. Now I can’t understand the words my dad is speaking.

The weather is muggy today. The temperature is in the mid-80s. I suggested going swimming at the dam but Andy said he didn’t feel like doing that. Grandma mentioned that Andy seems tired, and I certainly agree with that observation. I think the last two weeks of July were physically and emotionally draining for him. First of all, he played a lot of baseball during that stretch. Secondly, I recall experiencing butterflies before a regular league softball game in Oshkosh. I’m sure Andy had some moments of apprehension prior (and during) both of his July tournaments. (Actually, the last one was in August.) As we were leaving Reedsburg late Saturday afternoon, at the halfway point of the tournament, he told me, “I can’t wait to get home. I’m really tired.”

As a competitor in sports events, Andy learned a lot this summer. Not taking anything away from Eddie, of course, we have a lot to be proud of in our older son.

(Sorry for the sloppiness of this card but the slope of this comfortable chair is not conducive to good penmanship.)

We miss you.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Mt. Rainier Mirrored in Lake Spanaway

University of Washington

Spanaway Lake.  Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Daniel Honhart (1948-2013) Warren Area High School Class of 1966

The #1 song when the WAHS class of '66 graduated.

Daniel has remained a consistently popular name through the years.  It ranked #25 in 1880 and was the 11th most popular name in 2012.

Frances Gordon Peterson (1926-2013) Warren High School Class of 1944

One of the most popular songs when Frances graduated from Warren High.

Frances was a very popular names for girls in the early part of the 20th century.   It currently ranks #764.