22 November 2007

Thanksgiving Day 2007

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Today is the day my family celebrates a day that our ancestor, Miles Standish, participated in back in the 1620s. We are thankful to him for being part of the first Thanksgiving celebration, which has since become a truly American tradition. God bless you all and God bless the United States of America.

21 November 2007

"Chinese Fire Drill"

Two daughters joined the Henrietta Hi-Lites, an all-female color guard that marched in parades around the county and participated in contests in New York and Canada. Chris was a flag, that is, she carried one of the large banners and had to go through some maneuvers while on the march. Gail was a rifle, so she carried a wooden rifle and had to perform a bunch of manual-of-arms exercises while marching. They weren’t members at the same time; Chris joined first, then when she retired, Gail joined. If I remember correctly, there were some rifle marks in the family room ceiling from over zealous practices.

The manager was Jim Fleming, who was assisted by his daughter Kathy. Parents were asked to help with transportation for distant performances, so I volunteered. We had a nine-passenger Ford station wagon, so I could load up the car with Hi-Lites.

One trip took us to Toronto, Canada, where they were entered in a competition, so lucky me got to be chauffeur, along with Jim and another parent. Jim led the way with me next in our caravan. Unfortunately, Jim made it through a traffic light, turning right, but we didn’t. By the time the light changed and I turned, there were very dim taillights way up ahead, so I sped to catch up. Well, that wasn’t Jim. We pulled into a gas station to get directions, but the fellow there couldn’t find the hotel or the street on his map. So we turned around and retraced our steps, finally seeing the lights of the hotel up ahead. Well, we drove around and around the hotel, but couldn’t find any way to get there because of the construction, until I drove through a barricaded street and there we were. We did manage to make it to the bar just as last call was announced.

The next morning, we were up bright and early so we could get to the competition hall where we spent the day in total boredom waiting for our turn. I don’t remember winning first place.

On the way back to Henrietta, we were stopped at a traffic light, when someone asked if I could roll down the rear window, which I did. Suddenly, someone shouted “Chinese Fire Drill” and all the doors flew open, Hi-Lites jumped out of the car and rolled out the rear window, then piled back into the car, making sure they were all in different seats. I was stunned and almost forgot to go when the light turned green. From then on, I was prepared for the confusion when anyone made the announcement, but people in nearby cars looked on in shock.

19 November 2007

More About Art

In 1949, in my freshman year at Oklahoma Agricultural & Mechanical College, I was rooming with Nelson Cohen, also from Rochester, in a 16 ft. sq. surplus Army hut in Oretoopa Village, a temporary student housing project a healthy walk away from the college campus. The furnishings were sparse - two surplus Army cots with cotton mattresses, a central heater, and two wardrobes and dressers, with a study table for each of us. The outside was covered loosely with tar paper, which didn’t quite keep out the Oklahoma soil from blowing in each and every day. My buddy, Smitty, lived two doors down. One day, when things were a little slow, Smitty and I started drawing caricatures on my desk. When we finished, we had drawn Smitty, Kendig, Nelson and me. Too bad we couldn’t keep the desk.

11 November 2007


Racism is alive and well in the United States. You can thank the media for that. Why? Well, how many times have you read in the paper or heard on the radio or TV the words “Latino”, “Hispanic”, “African-American”, etc.? What kind of an image do those words convey? One nation of “Americans“? Or a multicultural nation of fragmented groups?

Wouldn’t it be better for all of us if the media called us all “Americans” and tried to bring us together, rather than using words that try to keep us divided? I think so. Which would you prefer?

04 November 2007


When we lived in Batavia, NY, there was an Indian - Mohawk, I believe - who stayed occasionally at my grandfather’s house. We called him “Chief” but his name was John Hill; he worked as a laborer on construction and traveled from job to job on a bicycle. One day my brother and I were talking with him when he pulled out a pencil and paper and proceeded to draw a picture of a locomotive. I was amazed at his drawing skill as well as his ability to draw from memory. If I remember right, he played a mean harmonica, too.

In the eighth grade in Monroe High School in Rochester, I took Art as an elective subject. There was an annual competition among the schools for best art, called the Scholastic Art Exhibit. The best entries were displayed at the foremost department store in town, Sibley, Lindsay & Carr, Co. I had entered a colored pencil drawing - 8 ½ x 11 - of a section of wallpaper of pigs. Yes, pigs! It won Honorable Mention and went on display for all and sundry to view. I think that’s about the time my parents bought me a set of colored pencils that I carried with me for many years.