- One of the happy experiences of 1996 was seeing again some of my school and neighborhood friends of the early 1930s. One of them was a still beautiful and gracious woman, perhaps three years my junior. Her family was, in a Christian community, notable for the caliber of their faith and works. A son, a bit older than I, became a pastor and is now retired. My cousins and I, and various neighbors from nearby farms, went often to the river to swim in its refreshing, clear waters, running over clean sands.
On one occasion, as we changed into swim wear, two of my cousins, girls, came out from behind the shrubs giggling, while E., the girl from this family, was blushing. We finally teased the reason for it out of the girls. In those depression years, farm women not only made all their bread but they bleached flour and feed sacks of all imprints and made clothes out of them. It seems E. was wearing a slip which had not bleached completely, and, across her abdomen the lettering still read, "Guaranteed Pure!" Very true in her case, and for all of us. All were poor in those years, but also good, and happy.
- Remembering those early depression years and school days brings to mind another girl, from a hard-working dairy farmer's family. She came to our high school from a two-room, two-teacher country grade school. The farmer-trustees insisted on a very good education. My cousin Ed, among others in the family, went to Clay School and studied Shakespeare, Eliot's Mill on the Floss, and more, by the eighth grade. Well, this girl, whose name began also with E., milked 20 to 30 cows, morning and night. While it did not show, she had strong, powerful arms. Country boys then were too poor for dating, but not town boys, and E. had many town boys at first trying to date her. Going to the movies appealed to E., but "no fresh stuff." Town boys who were persistent found that she could slug harder than anyone they new! Each boy kept silent, wanting his fellow town boys to get a like punishment! Well, for her first semester in high school E. saw many movies, enough for a lifetime from her perspective, and she then went back, contented, to milking cows as always.
- Gary and Deborah Burlingame sent some interesting reprints of various articles on diseases. One point interested me greatly. We often read that the white man's diseases decimated the natives of many countries, but the reverse was also often true: the diseases of natives wiped out Europeans. It was, for example, a long time before Europeans could live in Africa because native diseases killed them in overwhelming numbers. This protected Africa for centuries from European invasions, but it also delayed its entry into the world of nation states.
- Recently, on television, PBS had a documentary on the life of Andrew Carnegie, well done on the whole except for a key fact. Carnegie was a very religious man, but his religion was Darwinism, and out of it came his brutal belief in the survival of the fittest and his hostility to the laboring man. This same religion still marks most of our corporate leaders, and it explains why most are now internationalists. They see the world state as the next step in social evolution, and opposition to it as regressive.
- Recently I heard of a girl from a non-Christian family who reached puberty. Her mother gave her a lecture on "the curse," male oppression, the unfairness of life, and much, much more. Today I heard of what two wonderful friends, parents of eight children, did when their oldest girl began to menstruate. They held a family party to celebrate her introduction to womanhood, and all celebrated happily. Alice and Michael are indeed blessed in their wonderful children.
- A telephone call brought the sad news of the death of someone I knew well, although in recent years we have resided in different areas. He was a quiet, hard-working man, perhaps 25 years younger than I. His daughter, a godly woman, has married well, but the son, tall, handsome, and talented, was marked by perversity. His father's business was successful, and the son had an assured financial future. He was good at work, but he wanted freedom, "I wanna be me," meaning irresponsible. His mother wept at his dereliction, but it killed his father. God's commandment concerning honoring parents means to me that, not only is such a son suicidal, and that his days may not be long on earth, but that he lives under God's curse.
- Speaking of parents, one of the things my father taught me, and my mother underscored, was that life is best when we consistently show both gratitude to God and to man, and courtesy. So, very early after coming of age, I started writing (until recent years) yearly letters to different people whom I had never met, thanking them for what they had written and I had grown thereby. I would make clear that I wanted no return letter. One letter I wrote in the late 1960s or very early in 1970 produced an interesting response. It was to the remarkable economist and novelist, Elgin Groseclose. A telephone call in 1971, to our then home in Canoga Park, California was from Dr. Groseclose, who was in Los Angeles on business. He came over to see us, and we had a wonderful time together. On courtesy, my father taught me quite a lesson. My parents often took in friends and even needy strangers who were in need. Twice people exploited this, one man staying three months because he enjoyed it so much! Well, when I was maybe nine, we took in this widow and her son, two or three years my elder, for some weeks. Just before lunch, one day I discovered that the son had stolen some of my best postage stamps out of my collection. I went to the table and angrily confronted him. My father asked me to go with him, which meant a trip to the barn, where he told me that I could remain with the animals until I learned to behave myself like a man. I should have told him of the theft, he said, and he would have taken care of it quietly. After I calmed down, I came in, apologized, and ate. My stamps were later returned to me.
- One of the saddest aspects of 1996 was the political debate on protectionism versus free trade. I am against both. Protectionism prevailed until Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency, when free trade ideas were promoted by his Secretary of State, Cordell Hill. But both protectionism and free trade are political acts and therefore more governed by politics than economics. Under so-called protectionism, the U. S. became the world's major economic power, and under so-called free trade policies, it has still grown. The credit belongs, not to Washington D. C., but to businessmen who had been able to get around the roadblocks created by politics.
Topics: American History,
Family & Marriage,