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Lovetta Miles, Artist

 

Pictured above: a photo of Lovetta, an award winning painting from the 1980s, and a current favorite of mine suggesting an old-fashioned Christmas .

This is the second time I have done this, this being a blog dedicated to an artistically gifted friend. (Scroll down a few blogs and read “A Visit with Ellen Lisle” after you finish reading this one). You may be wondering why I do this, and the answer is simple. I like to do what I can to draw attention to persons with talent, especially friends, and this is the best way for me to do it. I have been a writer of fiction and non-fiction for almost 30 years, and know well how hard it can be to get published and obtain even a modest recognition.

But Lovetta Miles, a friend, neighbor, and creator of beautiful paintings who lives just a couple of miles down the road here in Overland Park, has done very well without any assistance from me. When she agreed to do this blog, I asked her for some background information, and was kind enough to provide enough to pretty much write the article herself.  So, I will let her share her story, and then there are few questions answered which you may have thought of yourself.

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In her own words . . .

My love of art began at a very early age — like 2nd or 3rd grade in elementary school.  I grew up in a very small village in the middle of Kansas, and we only had an Art teacher for maybe 2 years.  But those 2 years had a profound influence on me.  I loved shapes, colors and how to put them together to make pleasing & expressive (to me at least) works!

I was a music & sports fanatic in High School. Since our small school had no art teacher, my artistic side was expressed in different ways! Helping design homecoming floats, yearbook logos, etc.  And I have had a lifelong love affair with music.  All genres.

Fast forward several years.  In the mid 70’s I walked into an Art Shop and noticed a sign that said Tole Painting classes being offered by a local artist and I thought, Wow!  I’m going to sign up for this class and just see if I can do this!

May I just say, I no longer remember that instructors name, but she instilled in me such a love of color, technique, eye for detail and love of expression, that I use it to this day!

One of her quotes that has stuck with me thru the years was “After this class, you will never look at clouds, trees, water, the sunset, an apple or anything of beauty with the same eyes.”  She was absolutely correct.

That class started a series of classes in Oil, Watercolor and Acrylic.  While I LOVE Oil and Watercolors, I work almost exclusively in Acrylics now.  The colors have advanced to be as vivid as oils, they are far easier to control than watercolor and they dry MUCH faster!!  Each of these mediums require practice, skill and patience to master!  But they are all beautiful in their own way.

I added Art History classes to my curriculum at the local college, studied under several different private instructors and sold my first painting in the late 70’s.  Also entered some local art shows and won several awards for color & composition.

Then life stepped in and I got very busy raising a family, working in our business, etc, etc, and as a consequence, my paint brushes remained packed & unused for several years, until this past year.

My children are raised and on their own.  I still work full time and recently bought a home with a wonderful basement that I can use as a studio.   So one day, at the urging of my sister & children, I unpacked the brushes and started getting the “feel” of it!   Almost instantly, I was hooked again!!  And I now have the time & place to accomplish it! Timing is EVERYTHING!!  LOL!

My initial thinking was, if I can just sell enough to pay for my supplies and ads, I will be happy!  But after a few months of getting my “feel” back and getting the ads out, my work started selling, started receiving requests for paintings, etc, and here we are!!

Some Differences:  Things have changed so much from the early years!   It is now so much easier to sell paintings online!  We used to have to load up and take them to art shows, fairs and other venues!  There is a learning curve to selling online, but once that is mastered makes it much easier to connect with potential customers!

I have discovered also that maturity has a somewhat “freeing” effect!  At least it has for me. I can paint and let my mind and brush explore areas I was hesitant to go into in the past!  I like to challenge myself — and enjoy painting in variety of styles. Contemporary, Abstract, Impressionistic are my favs.

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Lovetta, to my knowledge, is not a writer, but perhaps should be. She told us a lot, with not too many words.

Now, a short Q&A session:

Q: Are you planning on painting full time in retirement?

A:  Yes, I plan on painting full time after I retire.  Really looking forward to having the time to paint as much as I would like!  Also, I believe it’s important to stay productive and involved in a creative & learning venture of some type after retirement!  It keeps your mind and heart actively involved in life!  Painting, or really, any kind of art form does that!

Q: Is there an art form on canvas that you would like to explore?

A:  Art form on Canvas I would like to explore? I have explored several mediums on canvas, but the one I want to work & learn even more and hopefully, gain more ability on, is watercolor!  I love the soft, pastel feel & flow of watercolor!   I find that acrylic satisfies the bold, dashing color part of me and watercolor, the softer side.  So yes, once I am retired and have more time; that is the area I want to explore & refine.

Q: What is your favorite thing to paint?

A: I love to paint a variety of things, but I think my very favorite ones are flowers & peaceful scenic landscapes.  We live in a very hectic world, and it helps me at least, to observe, appreciate and savor the beauty in it, and at least for a while, forget everything else!    I also enjoy the free-form flowers.  Experimenting with the form and color is very satisfying!!

Q: Are you interested in sculpting? I have always considered that a portrait painting is a sculpture on a flat surface.

A: No, I have never considered sculpting!  I became so enthralled with “color” at an early age that nothing else ever called me!  I appreciate the beauty and skill of sculpting, but never was called to try it!  It’s taken me years to get to this point with my painting, and you NEVER stop learning & refining, honing your skills!  I still have MUCH to learn & improve in my painting!   We artist types are always our own hardest critics!

Q: Are you ever going to have a showing?

A: Yes, I intend to have a showing next fall.  It’s difficult to spend the amount of time preparing adequately for a showing when one is working full time, but I am working and looking forward to doing just that!  Will keep you posted! (I have gone to many showings!  Am always amazed and so appreciative of the talent one sees at these shows!  Artists of every level, so interesting to view the world around us thru another’s eyes).

Q: Are there others in your family with artistic ability, or did you inherit all of it?

A: I have a niece who does some painting and a sister who is very gifted with floral arranging (another art form, which I discovered is NOT as easy as it may appear)!  But to my knowledge, I am the only one who has wandered into the art of painting — at this level anyway!  I’m sure they will correct me if this is not the case!!  LOL!  Our family is rather scattered around the country, so it’s hard to keep up sometimes!   I also must add, there are many art forms to appreciate!  I come from a family of many gifted musicians and singers!!  So MANY in my family have shared & appreciated that particular talent!!

Q: Have you considered teaching?

A: Yes, I have considered teaching and will possibly add that to my plan following retirement.  There are many tutorials out now on YouTube, etc. that one can utilize, but I believe it is critical to have hands on teaching to learn the basics.  Fortunately, I had a wonderful teacher who taught those basics; composition, technique, form, color, etc.  Once you have an understanding and have partially, at least, mastered those, then you can learn & grow on your own.  So yes, at some point in the future I would love to pass on what I have learned to other aspiring painters!

So . . .

All of this is very interesting to me, a non-artistic person as far sketching and painting goes. I feel like I have been to an art class simply by preparing this blog entry.

You can find Lovetta and her work on the following pages:

On Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtbyLJM?ref=search_shop_redirect

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Lovettas-Creations-757773231264697/community/?ref=page_internal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best of Times

Some time ago, a friend and I discussed our childhoods, what life for us was like growing up in 1950s and ‘60s Oklahoma. We are middle class Caucasians from baby boomer suburbs which, in those gentler (for us) times, seemed to sprout up as quickly and often as unwanted weeds and thistles. Looking back, I see now that older people of that time, which was just about everybody except the kids of our generation, lived with a sense of relief and satisfaction.  This is not to suggest that life and society were easy things to negotiate. Korea, Vietnam, the civil rights movement, the fight for equal rights for women, and the murders of Martin Luther King and the Kennedy brothers are proof of that. But, America in that era was indeed the Shining City on the Hill. We had weathered the Great Depression, ended two world wars in the first half of the 20th century for all of the right reasons, and served as a symbol of hope for the disadvantaged and downtrodden all over the world. Even for people on the fighting end of social change, there was a new hope and excitement. In 1960, when my friend and I were 10 years old, it was a good time to be a kid, and a great time to be an American of any age. The experience and memories of that time in our formative years have shaped our lives.

It is a bit difficult to describe that era if you did not live through it. We had the comforting presence of the war hero General Dwight Eisenhower in the White House, a man admired worldwide who had earned his prestige. We enjoyed an economic time which sowed the seeds of an unhealthy materialism in my parent’s generation, but they had lived a huge part of their lives to date living with fear, want, and uncertainty, so I will be gentle in my criticism. We had the sense of newness and confidence which the boomer generation was both a product and cause of. I have read, between 1946 and 1964, 76 million of us were born. That is a staggering amount of people to absorb into a society which numbered around 200 million when I graduated from high school in 1968. Can you imagine a percentage growth like that today? I doubt even unlimited, unmonitored immigration could match it.

After Ike came John Kennedy and the New Frontier. Kennedy, even with what we know now of all of the flaws he and his family possessed, inspired even more hope and confidence. While president in 1961-63, Kennedy stated he wanted to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. The technology to do that did not exist yet, with no guarantee that it ever would, but it happened as he wished in the summer of 1969.

For so many of us, from the early 1950s until the moon landing, it was indeed the best of times for us in the USA. I, for one, have never felt anything similar emotionally. I realize that I am now an old man looking back on a blessed youth, but many of my friends have expressed similar views to my own.

One cause of my admittedly nostalgic view of that era is what we experience to day in contrast. In late adulthood, which I date from my 50th birthday in the year 2000, there have been two major financial crises, one of which we are wading through as I write this, constant war since 2004, a very deep and dangerous political divide which threatens to unravel our society, and now the pandemic virus, which both our national and world leadership have all found, to some degree, difficulty in addressing. Both social and the mainstream media have been a mixed blessing, and a nervous nation often does not know who to trust or listen to. Materialism has morphed into greed in all its forms, and there is a sense of fear and distrust both here and abroad. I believe it is fair to say, if the era my youth was the best of times, what we have today are the most challenging of times.

I believe we are up to the challenge, but we are going to have to be smart and not let those in power, and/or whoever is behind the fake news we see hiding in plain sight, rob us of our perspective. America does not need to be made great again; we just need to remember who we are.

I do believe the era after WWII was the best of times in our country, but cannot help but wonder, how well would Ike and JFK handled Facebook and Twitter? As we head into a summer of uncertainty with a presidential election campaign preparing to gear up, that is something to think about.

 

The Present and Future America

As you who have followed my previous blogs know, I am an infrequent blogger, usually post something only when the mood or interest strikes. Now may be a good time to offer commentary on a more regular basis. For sure, there is much to comment on.

I have wondered if something of the magnitude of COVID-19 would happen in my lifetime. I always thought it would be another  911 type terrorist attack, somebody foolish enough to try to bring conventional warfare to our shores, or a dirty bomb in a major population center. You could say we are experiencing close to that now. My main worry has been the threat of nuclear war, brought by a frustrated leader of a nation or powerful faction who feels there is nothing to lose and everything to gain, whatever that would be after a nuclear exchange. But, what we see now, I never expected for many reasons.

Our current crisis has given many of us time to do a LOT of thinking. What has been on my mind over the last few weeks has been not only COVID, but the effect this is having on everything else. It’s odd not to see political ads all over TV and such a quiet campaign season. In my mind, I have connected our current situation with an old interest, which is the impact the baby boomers – my generation – has had on our society since we were small children. Everything from clothing styles, entertainment, the job market, the economy, politics, and anything else with even a minimal importance has been driven in a large way by, us. Oh, did I mention politics? Yes, I did. It seems incredible to me that our main presidential candidates this year have been older than me, and very traditional. But, I have sensed, even before COVID became such a crisis, that the winds of change are in the air, and that change has been given a shot of adrenaline by circumstances. Biden has said that he will select a female to run with, and I believe the influence of boomers will weaken after this year for many reasons. (As I write this, am hearing that Elizabeth Warren has endorsed Joe Biden. Barring something extraordinary, it’s his nomination to lose). I believe there are many fine younger people, both conservative and liberal, willing to step up, men and women shaped in more contemporary times, and that the 2024 campaign and election will be fascinating to watch.

I hope I am blessed to be around for a few more years. It will be interesting to see how my children and grandchildren deal with the complex problems of the 21st century, and what changes they bring to our nation and world. For now, COVID has me dealing with all I want to, but I sense that somehow, what we are going through now has lit a spark which will only grow into a larger flame.

So, there is much more to write about, much to discuss. Perhaps more blogs are indeed on the way.

 

50 Years Ago . . .

50 Years Ago . . .

The thing that is nice about blogging, one can write about anything at any time. It is also one of the few places where it is socially acceptable to make it, “all about me.”

So, today, I want to share with you my impressions of what I refer to as my personal Jubilee Year. It began in mid-April and will continue on until the last day of March, 2020. Those of you that know me will realize I am speaking of my year in South Vietnam back in 1969-70.

I will confess, this has been playing on my mind since early April, and am resigned to the idea that it will be prominent in my thoughts and emotions through to next year. 50 years. Where has the time gone?

To put it into perspective, the year 1969 marked 51 years since the end of WW1. The year 2020 will mark 51 years since 1969. It is interesting to think that my time in country, as we used to call it, marked the half way point between the War to End All Wars, and next year. It does amaze me to think, 1918-1969 is the same time span as 1969-2020. If it does not amaze you, stop and think about it for a few moments.

This is not so much a remembrance of Vietnam as it is the passing of time. 1918-69 brought Prohibition, the Roaring 20s, the Great Depression, FDR, WWII, Korea, the baby boom 1950s-60s, and Richard Nixon. 1969 until now has seen Watergate, the Reagan Revolution, terrorism on a global scale, multiple wars in the Middle East, hanging chad in the 2000 presidential election, social security benefits for the 1950s baby boomers, and now world famous entertainer and businessman Donald Trump as the United States president. These are just things that come easily to mind, but there is not enough room in this blog for 100 years of U.S. history. Another thing to offer perspective: the period from 1918 until now, comprises 41 percent of the time since the Declaration of Independence.

People my age have lived the heart of their lifetimes in the last 50 years. In my case, I have experienced marriage, children, grandchildren, a 34 year professional career, a mini second career in retirement from the first, life in four different cities, a robust youth and young adulthood, and now an older age where the wear and tear has begun to slow me down. With all of this, it seems like Vietnam was only a few weeks ago. It is possible, but not very probable that I have 50 years in front of me. It is one reason of many that I am enjoying the right now, day-to-day experience in a way I never have before.  Those of you who have known me as somewhat of a miserly fellow may be happy to learn I have loosened that up quite a bit.

So, what about Vietnam, the defining experience of my youth – indeed, my entire life? Well, that has been documented in a 5,000 word writing titled, To Southeast Asia, All Expenses Paid, which I wrote in the 1990s, when my memory was still intact. If anyone is interested in it, send me an email at tom.fowler@sbcglobal.net, and will send you a copy.

Would I be interested in returning to South Vietnam? I used to say, heck no, but time has softened that emotion. I think visiting there today would be an interesting experience. I probably wouldn’t go back to the area I served, a small place near the South China Sea named Bong Song. Doing that, I think, would be a bit too emotional for me. Today, I would be interested in visiting Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) or any other larger population center. Just the fact that the tourism industry has become prominent in Vietnam tells me things have changed, with at least some measure of economic development.

To end, I will offer a challenge, one I have offered often in my time as a writer of nostalgia and other more serious matters, such as the subject of this blog. I encourage you to write your own impressions of the last 50 years, if you are of an age where it is possible to do so. You do not have to share them publicly on a blog or social media post. Put them in a box if you must, or on a media storage device. A future family historian will find your memories invaluable.

The Growth of Two Cities

I am doing something new. I am writing a joint post for two Facebook groups. Half of this would be pertinent on the Remember in Oklahoma City When group, the other part of it on the We Grew Up in the OP group for Overland Park friends.

I have commented before, my hometown, Oklahoma City, and adopted hometown, Overland Park, KS, located 15 miles south of downtown Kansas City, MO, are remarkably similar. I grew up in north OKC and am well familiar with its growth and expansion. I have lived in Overland Park almost 15 years, and have learned quite a bit of its history in that time.  How the towns grew, and when, is as close to identical as you can get.

I will use certain years as reference points. In 1960, I was 10 years old. At that time, we lived on NW 67th street, near Lake Hefner. In those days, there wasn’t much north of our neighborhood, and Edmond was pretty much a small town 20 some miles or so north of downtown OKC. (As late as the early 1970s, when direct dialing was initiated, a toll telephone call between OKC and Edmond cost 15 cents). NW 67th St. in 1960 still had a semi-rural feel to it.

In 1960, from what I have learned, the area in which I live now in Overland Park, Morningview addition near south 97th and Antioch, was a farmer’s field. There wasn’t much south of 87th. Driving around the older areas of Overland Park today, one can still see the aging but well-maintained homestead houses. Johnson County historical aerial photos give one an excellent feel for 1960 and before. Where I live today didn’t just have a semi-rural feel to it, it was truly rural. Where OKC is right next to The Village and Britton, with Edmond farther north, Overland Park has Lenexa to the west and Olathe farther south a few miles. All of the areas I am mentioning, were you to transport yourself into a time machine in 1960 and arrive today in 2019, you may not know where you are, unless you are fortunate to land next to a longtime, familiar landmark.

Fast forward 21 years, to 1981. In 1981, the area north of NW 122nd in OKC was still somewhat undeveloped, with the exception of the Quail Creek development. It was around this time that the Quail Springs Mall was built on Memorial Rd, or NW 136th, and the area took off commercially. Today, development extends out to meet the city of Edmond.

In 1981, the area south of 103rd St. in Overland Park was undeveloped for the most part. Indeed, just since we moved here in 2004, the on and off ramps to the I435 loop at Antioch have been added, along with a massive lane expansion which runs through the entire Overland Park segment of the loop. Road work and lane expansion rivals Texas in Overland park, and is a modern day key indicator of community vitality. Today, the area is built up all the way to Olathe and beyond.

Now, to the present day, the year 2019. I haven’t lived in OKC since 1990, but have returned for visits often through the years. OKC and the surrounding communities have pretty much become one, even though smaller communities like Britton in OKC and Lenexa in Kansas, have held on to their identities very well.

On Highway 69 heading south out of Overland Park, streets are numbered up to the 300s, even though so much of the area is still rural, and these “streets” sometimes barely exist at all. One doesn’t have to be a civic planning wizard to guess what the plans are for my children and grandchildren.

It occurs to me as I contemplate what I have written, this could make an excellent book. I have barely scratched the surface on detail, and that is by design. There is much in OKC I am unaware of from 1990 on, and my firsthand knowledge of Overland Park is limited to 2004 until now. I hope I have presented the parallel growth of the communities in a way which is easy to comprehend.

I think it would be fun to read what someone would have to say in updating this topic in the year, 2069 or so. Can you imagine what these areas, and countless others similar to them in the USA, will look like in 50 years?

I can’t.

 

 

 

 

Candidate O’Rourke

Let me say right at the first, I am new to political blogging. As in, I have never done this before. So, allow me to just jump in and say what I have to say.

Candidate O’Rourke, as I have named this blog entry, is a man I need to know more about. I confess my knowledge of him is rather limited, but that will change as the long political season leading up to the 2020 election progresses. I considered doing some extensive research, but decided to go with my somewhat fresh impressions for this writing. Should I do follow-ups to this, there will be greater emphasis on campaigning and politics.

But, allow me to share with you what I feel and what I know as of right now. Think of this an electronic fireside chat, where we are sitting in comfortable chairs, by a toasty fire with favorite beverages in hand, sharing our wishes and dreams for what we hope is to come.

I first became aware of Beto O’Rourke during the Texas senate race last year against Ted Cruz. I lived in Texas for 15 years, found Texas politics to be interesting always and frustrating sometimes, as I tend to be left of center politically. The tight race and Cruz’s narrow victory captured my attention, as it felt like a defeat for Cruz and victory for Beto. That sort of feeling for democratic candidates does not come often in Texas politics, and so my interest in Beto O’Rourke began.

It is interesting to me that he has come along at a time when we need fresh faces. We got a good start to that in the mid-term elections, but we need to carry it forward in 2020. I think Beto is the right candidate for the right time for a changing of the guard. (Do you know, in my current home state of Kansas, we have a senator who has been in Washington in one capacity or another, since. . .1967!). I believe this is one reason of many that he has been such an effective fundraiser, something that has come to the attention of those who follow politics nationally. Friends, do not discount the ability to fund raise – in the far from ideal world of big time politics, it is a very important positive for he and his campaign, for more reasons than the obvious.

Power politics aside, Beto has struck a nerve with this aging baby boomer. I am a 69 year old Vietnam War veteran, am disabled, although thankfully to a fairly small extent, and believe myself to be open to change to a higher degree than most old white guys. Much of my initial interest in Beto has been because he reminds me much of Robert Kennedy. When he speaks, he seems to me to be able to connect with everybody, and in my mind, the words “Beto” and “hope” are beginning to mean one and the same thing. Charisma only comes along every now and then. Before my time, Roosevelt had it. In my time, the Kennedys had it, Reagan had it, Bill Clinton had it. I believe Beto has it. Charisma does not mean that a person is right all of the time, nor is a perfect human being with an unseen halo hovering over his/her head. No doubt Candidate O’Rourke will someday do or say something I do not agree with, but that will not diminish my attraction to his overall message. When he speaks, I listen, and get the welcome feeling that the future need not be bleak and drab. I believe he and his contemporaries are the wave of the future, and also believe that the future should be now.

It is going to take a massive effort to unseat the current president. Even though he is president by grace of the Electoral College, his support is solid and determined. The democratic side has to be the same, and more. The nation needs a clear choice. Beto O’Rourke will be our best chance to win back the presidency and the soul of the nation. President Trump is charismatic in his own unique way – world famous for many years as a leader in business and entertainment. It has seemed to me that the GOP is more frightened of O’Rourke than Joe Biden, and with good cause, I think. If Beto can almost unseat Cruz in Texas, his chances to win a national election are excellent. But, if Beto wins the nomination, as I believe he will, it is going to be a very difficult fight. 2020 is a year, more than any other, when we need to roll up our sleeves and get serious about the future of our country in a way we never have before.

Allow me to end this with a light touch. Perhaps the most remarkable thing Candidate O’Rourke has accomplished, or will accomplish, is to encourage a guy like me to write a blog such as this one, as I usually stick with fiction stories and nostalgia writing. Now, that is salesmanship, charisma, and the ability to win friends and influence people all rolled up in the same blanket. I’m impressed just thinking about it! Seriously, though, don’t you think that is what the best leaders do, to get people out of their comfort zones and happily doing things they swore they never would?

Thanks for reading, everyone, I hope this has been an interesting read for you.

 

 

Christmas Magic

Christmas Magic

It’s time for another time machine trip this morning. However, we will not be traveling to a place in time. Rather, we will be traveling back to a place in the time of our lives. Let us return to . . . the ripe old age of six. We will select that age because it is a prime Santa Claus year for children fortunate enough to be on his “Nice” list. The calendar year? Oh, it could be 1950, or 1965, or 1983, or last year, or anytime you wish to imagine, you just need to remember you are six years old, and have landed in a home living room which has a Christmas tree in the corner.

We have landed in our bedroom, on any morning a couple of weeks or so before Christmas day. We are on Christmas break from school, if indeed we are in school yet, so sleeping late is not a worry, although at age six and this close to Christmas, that is not a concern. We wake up, recall what time of year it is, and feet quickly hit the floor. Soon, we find ourselves in the living room, resisting the urge from Mom to come eat breakfast. Breakfast can wait, as we know that the majestic tree in the corner, or by the window, has only a limited number of days until it comes down.

At age six, travel by crawling on the knees is often preferable to walking normally. On this morning, the tree has been in place for several days and the carpeted floor has collected a number of pine needles. In the home we are in, there is a real tree and the smell of Christmas is strong in the air. Because of the shed pine needles on the carpet, we are crawling around sniffing like dogs, taking in as much of the mood and atmosphere as possible.

We finally arrive at the breakfast table. Our minds are not on food and it is rather tasteless, not at all like it is in the warm springtime when we are occupied with thoughts of outside activities and the anticipation of summer. That time of year is a little more than 100 days in the future, but on this morning it may as well be a 100 years and thousands of miles away.

Breakfast is quickly consumed, and soon we are back in the living room, on our knees and under the tree examining the gifts which are happily accumulating day by day. I said we are on our knees, which is not quite accurate, for we are doing a serious inspection and are laid out flat on the floor, positioned to see everything up close and give it the sniff test. At age six during this time of year, you are more hound dog than child and expert in the weight, size, feel and texture of wrapped gifts. Sherlock Holmes would have to take a backseat to us in this time and place. As we have done in the days previous, and will do every day up until Christmas day, we examine everything thoroughly. We will be both surprised and not surprised on Christmas day when we get up very early to see what Santa has brought to us, and unwrap gifts from family and friends. This, as are many things at this time of year, is more than wonderful. It is magical.

Back on our feet, we make our daily inspection of the tree. Have any ornaments been added or taken away? Is the tree drying out? If so, better go get a cup of water and pour it into the base stand. If you are in the 1950s or before, are the hot lights on the tree in danger of putting it on fire? Is the angel topping the tree still on straight? If not, it will require Dad or Mom to fix it. Is the tree leaning too much and in danger of falling over? Hmm, maybe an older sibling for that. All of these things are our self-imposed responsibility to monitor closely, and we are diligent in our duties.

When I was a kid, our tree was always placed in front of a picture window. On some mornings, there would be frost on the big pane of glass. How I wish I had a modern, high-definition color photo of this, but the rules of time travel are, no pictures.

Soon, the early morning magic of the first couple of hours after waking up begins to fade with the beginning of the day’s activities. Those activities may include “supervising” Mom in the kitchen as she makes candy and cookies, or trips to a well decorated store to purchase gifts and other Christmas related items. In our travels today, before returning to the present time we wait until dark to see the magic of Christmas through our living room trees in all of their glory. It is well worth the wait, and what a day it has been!

Soon, we are back in our time, memories and spirits refreshed. It is nice to know there is more than one way to experience the magic and joy of Christmas.

Let’s pause for a moment and consider this: how wonderful it is to be in the time machine and experience not only the magic of time travel through time, space, and our minds, but also the unique experience of Christmas in this very personal, private, and significant way which only we can understand.

Christmas joy often comes in unexpected, unusual ways. I hope this writing has been that for you.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

 

Christmas Back When

Christmas Back When

I’m moving backwards 8 years from my last Christmas memory, to 1962, which was posted on my own page a few days ago. My childhood pals and those older will remember that Christmas shopping, or any form of retail shopping in north OKC outside of the downtown area before Penn Square Mall opened in 1960, was very limited. No doubt this is why the new Shopper’s World, located approximately where a Home Depot sits today off May Avenue, near the Founder’s Tower, was as busy as it was at this time of year, 55 years ago.

In today’s era of Amazon online ordering and constant Black Friday promotions, it is hard to describe the shopping mentality of that era. Many families shopped on Friday night and Saturday, as most stores were closed on Sunday. There were few pre-Christmas sales back then, the emphasis was on getting what was on your shopping list while it was still available. So, no doubt this was in line with my parent’s thinking when we visited the new Shopper’s World one Saturday before Christmas.

The store was packed to a degree hard to describe. It was difficult to move around, space to walk from one aisle to the next, one department to the next, was hard to find and even harder to negotiate. Add to this the fact that many people were carrying big sacks and packages of merchandise, and you begin to get a mental image of what I am trying to convey. A few years ago we were in New York for Christmas and visited the magnificent flagship Macy’s store off of Herald Square, and experienced the same situation. Stores can be busy like that today at this time of year, especially on THE Black Friday day after Thanksgiving, but it just doesn’t seem the same. Perhaps the magic I felt as kid who was not quite a teen yet has something to do with that.

Shopper’s World was one of the first, if not the first, of the big Walmart type department stores in Oklahoma. It was a popular store for people of all ages, and that was remarkably apparent during their first holiday season in business. At age 12, all I had known until a couple of years previous was that Christmas shopping was done downtown, and it took most of the day. Traveling to shop for Christmas only a few blocks over was still a concept people were getting used to, and they liked it very much. It was new, exciting, and fun, kind of like Amazon is now. On the cusp of adolescence, it was cool as it comes to be in on the cutting edge of change in a major industry. It is a time I recall well, not only because of the added magic of Christmas.

I remember leaving the store that afternoon pretty much star struck by the experience I had, and how my parents were loaded down with sacks of purchased items. Then, as now, it was possible to get hurt in a too-busy Christmas season store parking lot. I wasn’t asked to help carry much, and realized later the reason for this was, some of those bags contained gifts for me! I believe Dad and Mom knew what they were doing, as I realize now that the Christmas of 1962 was my last one of small boyhood.

I was home for a couple of days recently, and we stayed in a motel near the Founder’s Tower. That area has always been one of my favorites in OKC and, for the last several years, it has been fun to drive around and see how many different places around the area it is possible to take a good photograph of the Founder’s Tower — perhaps the highest point in north OKC, along with the Baptist Medical Center. Sadly, many of the original buildings, (including Shopper’s World, which would become Founder’s Fair and, finally, Service Merchandise), around that area are gone and replaced by those with newer and more modern architecture. Sad for us oldtimers who remember how well designed the area around Mosteller Drive was, and how many of the buildings were built with the same charcoal colored brick.

So, I wonder, what will today’s younger teens have to say about how we purchased our needed goods 50, 60 years from now? What will they have to say about the Founder’s Tower area, if it still exists in a form similar to how it is today? I will wager that as, as our world becomes more advanced and technologically interconnected, in the year 2067 how things are done today and how they appeared in 2017 will seem and, in fact be, very outdated.

Progress. The way of the world. I suppose we shouldn’t want or expect it to be any other way.

Election Day

Election Day is almost upon us. In my time as an interested citizen, which dates back to the election of John Kennedy to the presidency in 1960, I have never seen anything resembling what is going on today in American politics. The Watergate era was similar, but remembering back 45 years, it seems tame by comparison.

The print and electronic media have pretty much said everything I would offer concerning the state of American politics, although I like to think I could offer it in a much less mean-spirited way. Most of us know without having to be reminded that we are deeply divided in our political philosophy, and that our president, Donald Trump, evokes strong emotion, pro and con, from the American public. Say what you will about President Trump, but there is no doubt that he stirs the emotions and keeps us tuned in very well as to what he wants to do and how he will do it.

Because of the force of President Trump’s personality, the midterm elections this year take on a special significance, even more so than they usually do. The political party out of presidential power usually makes gains in the midterms, and the emotion is not quite as pronounced as during a presidential election year. This year, all is different. There is no guarantee of anything, for it will be the first voter referendum on the presidency of Donald Trump. No one truly knows how the political winds will blow as I write this, and emotion is at a dangerously high level. One senses that this election could very well be significant beyond its normal importance, which is important enough during the dullest of times. Joe Biden has said that it is a fight for the soul of America, and I’m betting many on the right would agree with that.

And quite a fight it is. Our president, right or wrong, makes it so, for the strength of his personality comes through loud and clear with his quick Twitter trigger finger. This election pretty much is about Trump and I do not believe he would have it any other way. Our president is a larger than life figure. He is a billionaire, dynamic, and well known around the world for his skill in business and deal-making – well known long before The Apprentice or his successful run for the presidency. I have had the uncomfortable feeling that when he leaves office, whenever that may be, his time as president will either have been a rousing success or a disaster. There is no in between or middle of the road for the Donald Trumps of the world. It is going to be one or the other. It is going to be the ultimate art of the deal, or art of the bust.

I believe the heavy early voting we have seen supports my claim. People are interested in this election in large part because of the emotion the president generates. His supporters are eager to see his power base strengthened by an increase in conservative senators and congressmen. His detractors wish to see the opposite happen for obvious reasons. If you are on the conservative side, you have had two of the best years of the political side of your life. If you are more mainstream or liberal, you may take comfort in the fact the nothing lately has been Obama’s fault.

This seems almost anti-climactic, but it needs to be said. If you have not yet early voted, please do so on election day this Tuesday. As deeply divided as we are as a nation and voting public, it is not out of the realm of possibility that a race somewhere will be decided by double digit votes, maybe even one vote. It has happened before and may well happen again – possibly in 2020 during the presidential race. In these times, assume anything and nothing.