Sunday, July 29, 2018


"HAPPY TALK" -- I have fond memories from long ago of visiting college friends for a memorable experience at the St. Louis Municipal Opera where we enjoyed "South Pacific" featuring Juanita Hall who created the Broadway role of Bloody Mary in one of my favorite musicals.  

She did portray Bloody Mary in the movie version but her voice was dubbed, reportedly due to concern she might no longer be able to reach some of the high notes.   This YouTube video has united recordings of her actual voice with the movie video excerpt.

As has often been the case characters nationality may have no relation to the role portrayed.  So it is that Juanita Hall is not Polynesian, but is bi-racial with an African-American father and Irish-American mother.

Another South Pacific song, "You've Got to be Carefully Taught", sung years later by Mandy Patinkin adding "The Children Will Listen Medley" is of special significance today, emotionally expressing sentiments we all take to heart if we truly care about children.   

Talk, talk, talk we’re hearing lots of talk -- brings me to thinking about “talks”….. how families raising their young children help them learn to cope with societal differences that might result in them experiencing being discriminated against.    

I recently listened to a white-skin grandmother whose heritage is equally divided between two often discriminated against groups, but no one could tell by her skin color.   Her husband Caucasian.    She was concerned, wondering if their adopted son from one of those groups had “a talk” with his son as they had to have years ago with him when he was young?  

Her grandson’s father’s skin tones are definitely the golden-brown shade of his South American heritage.   Years ago, as a young man he experienced being queried more than once, assumed by some to speak a language other than English and being quizzed by authorities questioning his legal status.    He is at risk of the same today given the climate cultivated by some occupying leadership positions in our nation.  Their attitudes and some actions have served to deliberately unleash some base discriminatory qualities in others.

His son has lighter skin color, but nevertheless enough tone that could result in his being subjected to being confronted similarly, or even worse in these highly sensitive times.  This has the grandmother understandably concerned.  

Those of us who are white live privileged lives though we may well have taken our status for granted.   Do we have to have such “a talk” with our children?   Those of us with white skin don’t have to receive or give a color talk in my experience, so I can only imagine what that might be like. 

I recall talking with a black colleague about this subject years ago.  He related his experiences of being confronted in numerous instances, including when he was just exercise running in areas surrounding his modestly affluent residential community.  
Blacks often describe “the talk” as the terminology for what is mandatory for them, living in our shared world of physical body differences (color and even other differing characteristics).  Intolerance prevails in those lacking certain moral values. 

Most of us have never needed to receive “the talk”, but perhaps growing up we’ve received “a talk” or found it necessary as adults to deliver one of our own on issues other than skin color.    What comes to my mind was when my mother talked with me about some of the differences in people.   

Mother said that some people did discriminate against certain others, as she explained what little sense that often made.  Examples of some who could be treated poorly she cited were people with a darker skin than ours, like some of my brother’s high school classmates though there were few of them then, or those with religious differences like our dentist because he was Jewish (who I revere to this day for his caring, sensitivity and kindness). 
In those pre and WWII days people whose appearance was different in other ways -- had a foreign accent or spoke a language other than English might not be readily accepted.  Emotions could run high in the name of national security and how best to ensure our safety.

More prevalent today, arousing the anxiety of some, are those who wear headdress,  dress differently otherwise, though we've had the latter for generations with our Amish and other sect populations.  But remember how freaked out so many people were with boys allowing their hair to grow long (to which my husband also objected), or some of the clothing styles?

Mother noted within Christianity even Catholics were suspect by some Protestants – that there were people professing to be Christians claiming they cared for all people, but in fact, many practitioners seemed not to be ecumenical.   This seems strange since most religious groups say they embrace loving one another as a basic premise in their belief system.   

A religious spirituality significantly influenced my Mother’s life from which she quietly drew strength – beliefs she considered private -- best demonstrated by how she lived and treated other people personally and in business, rather than proselytizing.   She cautioned about those that tend to impose their beliefs on others – that their motivations might wisely be questioned in religion and otherwise.  She noted that often those who feel compelled to profess the loudest about their religiosity, or busily toot their own horn about their accomplishments and how right they are above all others, may be the least likely to live as they say others should.      

She also cautioned I should just disregard any name-calling to which I could be subjected.  This might occur because of my red hair – that agitators would likely just be trying to tease, annoy or anger me -- that my best response was to not give them that satisfaction.  She spoke of humor as a powerful defense in some situations.  

“The talk” that most closely resembles what the grandmother speaks of, and so many parents with children simply having darker than white skin colors are compelled to have with their young loved ones, can make the difference between life and death. 

“A talk” is different in the following example, but similar to “the talk” in some respects.  Mother told me she had cautioned my brother that because he had red hair, he might stand out to others and needed to be aware of that fact. 

For example, she was discussing how people get caught up with friends in group activities, sometimes in situations in which they might not even want to participate.   Even if he was just standing around, he should be aware that observers likely might remember seeing the more conspicuous and only tall red-haired guy though they might not be as apt to describe the others. 

Of course, merely telling me this story served as being “a talk” for this red-haired gal encountering any future situations.  Fortunately the red head issue never progressed for my brother and I beyond the teasing level.       

Did you ever receive “a talk”, or any of the more serious potentially life-preserving type “talks” as dark-skinned people and/or this grandmother is concerned about? 

Or, maybe you’ve given such “a talk”?  

Sunday, July 22, 2018


Seems every day this past week my schedule required my arising earlier than I’ve wanted in recent years.    So, I was pleased to go to bed last night knowing I could sleep in the next morning if I so chose.  Now that’s what I call a real retirement benefit – arising and retiring as early or as late as I want most days, especially true with no one else in the household requiring my attention. 

My waking hours do generally include seeking news of the latest happenings in the world around me.   I’ll know I’m ready to depart this existence if the day ever comes when I cease having such interests.  While I care deeply and am committed to issues, my emotional state remains stable, unlike what some describe experiencing as a reason to reject following current events. 

Here’s my perspective, opinion, also rhetorical questions possibly injected with a sarcastic twist on a few recent events.

If you’re one of those individuals who just can’t tolerate any more reference to the current state of affairs, then you may want to skip down to where I transition into thoughts about outer space communication complications.  

Internationally, our erstwhile U.S. leader continues his efforts to disrupt positive relations with our European allies with words that seem to promote his despot idol -- if his actions at the recent Helsinki summit are any indication.    As if that isn’t enough, his recent Putin summit meeting and paltry excuse citing a supposed innocent language mistake for denigrating our country, coupled with his failure to consistently publicly condemn Russia’s admitted efforts to disrupt our elections, our leader again could be thought of as betraying the American people’s best interests.  Maybe our leader needs to review the oath and allegiance he took when assuming his elected office.  

Nationally, reuniting some children with their parents who have been seeking asylum slowly continues.  This follows what has been suggested as one of our leader’s efforts to desensitize citizens into gradually being more accepting of immoral actions, such as the inhumane treatment of others of whom he doesn’t approve -- much as autocrats or dictators do.  Amazingly, some people continue efforts to rationalize this and other of our leader’s illogical behaviors as if his motivations are genuinely intended to be in the best interests of our nation, ordinary citizens and humankind. 

Are citizens justified in asking if our leader’s conflicting words alternately disparaging then supporting our national security agencies actually exhibit treason-like behaviors? 

By kowtowing to the dictator that he admires, while subverting citizens confidence in our intelligence agencies, is our leader behaving in a traitor-like manner? 

Do we want to offer the hospitality of a White House Meeting to a dictator who has meddled and continues to interfere in our elections as our leader has proposed?      

Our Fourth Estate providing factually supported news continues to need our support to remain a bastion of power protecting our constitutional freedoms and democratic republic.  Meanwhile our leader harps on fake news, when he is the one regurgitating such most of the time, to instill confusion and undermine citizens confidence in our form of government.    He has repeatedly offered alternate facts/falsehoods so much, or claims misinterpretation,  that thinking people conclude everything that comes out of his mouth needs to be verified from other dependable sources.   

Verifying media integrity to avoid those with a history of biased reporting such as is alleged against Fox TV, for example, is wise (consider Rupert Murdoch's ownership, his agenda, association with DJT).  Differentiating between fact and opinion, and verifying the reliability of our news sources continues to be critical.  Facebook and Twitter have reportedly been found lacking and, in fact, sources of seeding much dissension adversely affecting the thinking of some of our citizens.   

California courts have ruled the measure a billionaire venture capitalist promoted to divide our state into three states will not be on our November ballot.  The justices wrote in unanimity:

"We conclude that the potential harm in permitting the measure to remain on the ballot outweighs the potential harm in delaying the proposition to a future election."

Locally, our city senior services have continued to proceed with plans to offer an interest group I proposed earlier this year.   I have unexpectedly become involved in the planning when a number of people responded favorably to the idea.   Subsequently, a survey has revealed enthusiasm for a variety of related topics for exploration.   I may well become involved in a facilitating role though I hadn’t planned to assume any group responsibilities since retiring.   I’ll share particulars later as this activity continues to develop for scheduling to begin later this summer leading into fall/winter.  

Reflecting on the divisiveness fostered and admitted by Putin to disrupt our previous election which Russia is continuing according to our National Intelligence figures, (other than the Homeland Security person who parrots our leader's mendacity), I’m hoping that many of our citizens, especially the Congress, will re-examine their support of our leader's positions and think primarily of preserving our nation’s freedoms.  Maybe they need to review the oath of office they took.  

My thoughts go quite far afield sometimes.  Thinking of some people division-inclined on earth, but who are open to the prospect of finding and interacting with life on other planets in space.   I wonder how they would react if life was found somewhere out there?   How intelligent would that life be?  

The idea is incredulous, I think – for example, we earthlings in the U.S.  have numbers of people who resist languages other than English being spoken here, unlike the multi-language speakers welcomed  in many other nations.   Can you imagine that divisively-inclined U.S. group encountering creatures who are possibly of different shapes, colors, and who knows how they might communicate, or what other differences might exist, expecting to establish good relations with outer space beings? 

Do you ever consider the possibility of life elsewhere and how we would react?  

I feel very magnanimous and desirous of offering friendship ..... and then I remember one of my favorite Rod Serling's "Twilight Zone" episodes, "To Serve Man".  If you don't know the story an Internet search will reveal links to view the program.  Also, you can click this Wikipedia link for story specifics,  but spoiler alert if you plan to watch the show, don't read about it first.

Music sets the mood.  I just had an eerie thought, do you suppose our current leader haunts a corner of that world?

Sunday, July 15, 2018


My most recent recollections here in which I briefly referred to a few of my younger years may have left an impression I led  a more humorless life those years than would be accurate.   These were years when I enjoyed and learned a lot about nature, the environment, wildlife and domestic creatures and pets. 

Some of the events occurred when we were in the chicken business.   In addition to our Rhode Island Reds a weasel got into one night as they sat on their darkened enclosed chicken coop roosts, we also had some beautiful multi-colored game birds.   These latter foul are used by unscrupulous owners as fighting cocks for entertainment and on which they gamble, but we did not engage in that activity. 

We also had some colorful bantam chickens and a couple ducks.  Half an oil drum with drainage holes in the bottom so fresh water could be added was buried to ground level in the chicken yard.  The bantam hens had been given the large duck eggs to sit on, keep warm and hatch.   These eggs were so much bigger than a small bantam hen's egg I always wondered why that chicken wouldn't have noticed and rejected the whole project.  Well, she didn't complain and dutifully hatched the lot, at least two, maybe another, but I can't recall exactly. 

As soon as the ducklings were able, mother hen took them on outings.   Eventually, their wanderings took them all further afield, but they always had to be wary of hawks soaring about, looking for a meal.  The day came when the ducklings encountered the water-filled little pool into which they immediately plopped.   They swam about having a splashingly good time while their mother had a squakingly traumatizing time, circling the pool's edge,  flapping her wing feathers, warning her "chicks" of danger to no avail.   They ignored her and they did not flounder or sink.  What must that poor little hen have been thinking? 

The wonderful feature I perceive of childhood is that much of what we encounter is new and can be fascinating.   We absorb so much through those formative years from which to learn, that influences our thinking and contributes to our becoming the person we are.   Probably we don't really recognize all this until we become a few years older. 

I recall thinking about events that occurred in my family, listening to the adults talking about what their life experiences had been plus what we were actually living.   There was no television.  We received no newspapers or magazines.  We did have a radio.    Today with the addition of televisions, cell and/or smart phones, other digital technology devices, I wonder if exposure to such family conversations for young people is as prevalent? 

I became aware despite the best preparation and plans kind, loving, industrious, intelligent, talented, capable people made that unexpected uncontrollable circumstances could happen completely altering their expectations.   This could occur as a consequence of the behavior of others or self, and health issues.   Even performing legitimate labor that's necessary to survive,  also unintentionally ultimately damaging one's health further can occur.   Companies, unions, government enforcement agencies, justice officials, individually or jointly do not always exercise the correct judgment, sometimes for illegal reasons, especially for a person of average or less means.     

I saw how life went on as people put their energies into adapting to whatever the circumstances were rather than complaining and moping about. 

I learned by several means that my happiness level to a great extent was my responsibility to cultivate.    Finding the humor in life contributed considerably to healthy development. 

This all convinced me that becoming educated and able to independently care for myself seemed a most intelligent and sensible goal.   As much as others might care for me, anything could happen to anyone, at anytime and they might no longer be available to help me.   In fact, I might need to help them. 

That view partially fostered my thinking that I would never get married, but if I did, I would never have children.   In my early twenties my perspective gradually began to change and the rest as is often said, is history.    I wed in my late twenties, also having decided children would be acceptable -- which I jokingly referred to then as being an occupational hazard (birth control pills were just coming into limited usage.)

If I also thought world conditions were troublesome then, to be raising a family, I can only wonder what young people today think.   At least our country, the U.S., had seemingly stable leaders in the major political parties which is more than I can say for us currently with our democratic republic and individual freedoms at stake. 

What were your conclusions as a young person about how you would live your adult life?
Had you formed a point of view that you later changed? 


Sunday, July 08, 2018


In my previous post I wrote about my youthful reactions to reading Ross Lockridge Jr.’s novel, “Raintree County” in which July 4th held significance.   Eventually learning years later of the author’s suicide despite his novel becoming a best seller and destined to be a movie, I’ve wondered why he took his life?

In recent years I became aware of and read “Shade of theRaintree”, published in 1994, written by his son, Larry Lockridge, to provide a more definitive biography of his father’s life than one written by John Leggett, twenty years earlier.     

I subsequently decided to read John Leggett’s 1974 book, “ross & tom” “(2 american tragedies)”.  He examines the lives of two writers who died young and describes his conclusions as to why they did so – Ross Lockridge, Jr. and Thomas Heggen, the successful author of “Mr. Roberts”, popular novel, play and movie.   

I found Leggett’s account of Ross Lockridge Jr.’s life of interest, agreed with his view “…success was not in itself a spoiling force for him…”.   I have thought Leggett’s opinion that family relationship forces resulted in Ross being vulnerable to taking his own life to be a convoluted overly complicated questionable psychological analysis.    Speculation by others continued to ensue after Leggett’s book with no definitive answer. 

I did read just before publishing my previous post eldest son, Ernest Lockridge’s 2014 book, “Skeleton Key to the Suicide of My Father”.   His conclusion involved some rather questionable unverifiable assumptions which I chose not to delve into.  All the family linkages he suggested stemmed from one event he personally reported experiencing.   With all due respect, I accept his perception of his personal experience.   However, I do not think his extrapolated stretch of tenuous, at best, conclusions that he projects on to other family members and his father have much basis in reality.    

Both Lockridge sons, Ernest and Larry, are accomplished writers, authors, academics, in their own right, well beyond these published books I reference here.  I hadn’t thought I would be encountering all these theoretical speculative complications about their father’s suicide when I began writing what I expected to be a simple reflection on my feelings, and reactions reading “Raintree County” so many years ago.   Having become aware of these several writers varying points of view, I felt compelled to explore it all further to reach some sort of resolution in my own mind.   

Perhaps my conclusions are as reasonable as anyone else’s.   I can well imagine Raintree County” author, Ross Lockridge, Jr., felt let down as many artists have discussed feeling when their creation is released in any form and no longer under their control.    His book had been published to popular acclaim, though not critically embraced to be designated the great American novel as he aspired his words and story to be after having devoted so many years and so much effort into this creative work.

Perhaps the multiple pages he was initially required to amputate from the body of his work to even achieve publication gave him reason for self-doubt on his later reflection as to what he had allowed to occur.  Might he have been experiencing a beginning sense of concern of possibly having unintentionally betrayed his creative ideal given his self-imposed high expectations -- a weakening of his creative life force, if you will?  

Ever after, having to eliminate more pages and descriptive events, coupled with changes to that world he creatively described,  could the author have just reached his emotional limits -- with physical health residuals on which to fall back exhausted, too?  Could he have become over-whelmed, unable to anticipate relief in the future from what seemed to be unrealized idealized hopes he had envisioned for his book and life -- further edits beyond possibility?          

Also, I wonder if the movie’s production development seemed slow which may have been another exacerbating disappointment.   The film’s progress, or lack thereof, may have prompted the author’s further concerns that his story’s visionary ideals were at risk of being compromised.   That’s worthy of another discussion if Ross had any inkling or foreboding of what might occur with the adaptation of his book.   Would a less than stellar movie impact how his book would be regarded?

The studio was having difficulty creating a movie script, but he was not actively involved.  What could matter is, if he felt some sense of having abandoned his story to those who gave him reason to be anxious about what they would produce.   I think that would have been one more demoralizing factor for the “Raintree County” idealistic author.   Son Larry described his father’s life during those times in his book. 

There were other life issues, probably of lesser significance, but factors none the less.  A financial element and conceivably a familial genetic predisposition may have come to bear on author Ross.  Reference was made to a cousin whose significant novel addressing mental illness brought about social awareness and change had years earlier been made into a powerful movie.   Larry wrote:
“His cousin Mary Jane Ward, author of the 1946 novel “TheSnake Pit”, would later say she became reconciled to his death only when she saw the movie—at least he had been spared this!”
(Her reference was to the movie made of “Raintree County” which was less than stellar.)

I think the action Ross took was the sum total of all the factors – magnified in his mind -- given his personal values, beliefs and expectations of himself.  Perhaps, impulsively, for a period of time he became unable to visualize hope beyond the darkness encompassing him, unable to recognize his emotional/physical state was not permanent.   Perhaps unable to realize his life enthusiasms and creative juices could be replenished.   I can well imagine his thinking processes ultimately had become unable to function logically affecting his judgment with what we know can be neurological chemical imbalances.     

“Raintree County” remains a nostalgic memory as I journeyed through character John Shawnessy’s life, set in a time and place not too long ago.   I was fascinated by how one chapter literally lead into another in a manner “…often surreal…with dream sequences, flashbacks…” within the framework of John’s life.   The author’s metaphorical commentary on ever-increasing materialistic influences has resonated for me through my life’s decades.

I would like to have been able to read his book as he imagined it with all the pages he originally wrote, no matter how lengthy, including the many sections the publisher required be eliminated.  That may well be the long anticipated great American novel of the time Ross Lockridge, Jr. wrote that we never got to read.   Some might think his published book a classic that has yet to be fully appreciated  and recognized.