Tag Archives: Pledge of Allegiance

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find out what it means to me!

Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul.  In 1967, her big hit was a song titled, ‘Respect.’  It was a fantastic song, as were most of her songs.  My favorite Aretha song was, ‘You Better Think.’  Even though it was released in 1968, it really hit popularity when she sang it in the 1980 movie, ‘Blues Brothers.’  The movie and the song are some of my all-time favorites.

Even though ‘You Better Think’ would be an excellent subject for this blog, today it happens to be about RESPECT.  Not just the song, but the character trait.  Do you have respect for anything in today’s world?

When I was young, I was always told to respect my elders.  If an elderly person entered a room, I was taught to get off my duff and offer my chair.  Recently, Grandma P and I were visiting some of our grandkids.  I was making a move toward the chair with the best view of the TV, when my grandson, Spike, decided it would be hilarious to run around me and plop his butt into this chair before Grandpa T could nestle his posterior comfortably in the aforementioned chair.  Coercion and threats did not work to move Spike.  Finally, it became physical.  Spike and I would arm wrestle for the chair!  I cheated and won!  I had to cheat as Spike is one pretty tough nut for a 6 year old.  Anyway, we decided to compromise.  We both sat in the big comfy chair and watched TV together.  I made sure (as the elder!) that I got the biggest portion and most comfortable spot.  He just wanted to jerk the chain of his Grandpa and spend time with me, and I respect him for that.  Now whether he respects me is a whole different ball game.  Time will tell as we have plenty of time to mold his little body into something respectful.

Do you respect authority?  I would like to limit this portion specifically to teachers and law enforcement.  Do you know how many officers have died in the line of duty so far this year?  The answer is 99 officers.  In 2015, the number of officers killed in the line of duty was 130.  Of the 99 officers that have died this year, 44 of them were killed by gunfire.  Does that show respect for law enforcement?  Growing up in a small town as I did, I knew all the local policemen, most of the deputy sheriffs, and practically all of the local highway patrolmen.  They were all great people with wives and kids just like everyone else, just attempting to do their jobs in the best possible manner.  They were all respected as law enforcement and they were all respected for being contributors to our community.

As I was growing up, we were to respect our teachers…..or else!  Three of my six elementary school teachers had husbands that worked with my dad, Big Daddy G.  Big Daddy G did not have to attend any parent-teacher conferences, because the drums of misbehavior beat often and loudly in our small town.  Between Big Daddy G knowing all the policemen, and working with the husbands of my teachers….I could not get away with diddly squat!!  If I went to a drive-in movie 12 miles from our hometown (there were two in opposite directions) on a Friday night, by Saturday noon he knew where I had been, who I was with and what movie was playing.  I digress.  I could not be a teacher today and I admire those that are.  Some of the school districts across the nation are not only turning out substandard students unwilling to learn, but the teachers are at risk of bodily injury.  Every day, an average of four teachers are accosted in the Baltimore school system.  From all indications, this is not uncommon.  If I would have ever been brain dead enough to attack a teacher, I would have had to call the police to protect myself from what Big Daddy G was going to do.  The teachers were right, no questions asked.  The student was wrong.

How about that media!  You know who they are.  Their job is to ‘report the news fully, accurately, and fairly.’  As I am writing this, the latest Gallup poll indicates that only 32% of the population either has a ‘great deal or fair amount of trust’ of the media.  That’s less than 1/3 of the population!  It is also the lowest rating ever given to media in terms of trust since Gallup began polling this question in 1972! The level of trust has dropped 8% from last year.  I am using trust and respect somewhat interchangeably as the New York Times and the Washington Post have slumped to levels only achieved by the National Enquirer and The Star publications.

I witnessed a perfect example of misrepresentation recently.  Donald Trump was making a speech in Ocala, Florida.  Early in the speech, the TV networks were flashing one of those banners at the bottom of the screen while the speech was still going on, saying that Donald Trump said, “If you are not registered, get the hell out of here.”   What he really said was, “If you are not registered, get the hell out of  here and register!”  If you did not see the beginning of the speech, you would have been resigned to reading the banner that was flashed numerous times during his speech telling perspective speech listeners to get out if they were not registered.  How can you respect a media that omits pertinent information, adds fictitious information or generally massages a story to express their political beliefs for personal gain?  You can’t, as the Gallup numbers indicate.  The media is suppose to be the ‘society truth filter,’ and sadly they are anything but that.

For all twelve years of elementary and secondary school, we all began the day by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.  Whenever we heard the national anthem, we sang it with gusto and reverence.  In our town, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion were large and very much respected organizations.  We had three generations of my family that all belonged to the American Legion.  My grandfather and uncle were members of the VFW.  Grandpa had fought in WWI.  Never, ever, would we have ever thought of disrespecting these veterans by disrespecting the flag under which they all fought and served.  When I see these people that do not stand for the national anthem and pay homage for the privileged life they lead in this country, because of the sacrifices of others….it makes me sick….and angry.  I have often thought that this country should institute a policy of mandatory military service for males, just like the countries of Israel (includes women), Switzerland, most of the Scandinavian countries…22 countries in all.  Why?  An opportunity to gain maturity, responsibility and direction in making future life decisions.  A dose of discipline does not hurt anyone.  But more importantly, it is difficult to disrespect your flag and your country if you saluted the flag every day, and fought for your country.  In other words, unlike a certain spoiled NFL quarterback, a veteran has ‘more skin in the game.’  While the NFL QB is sitting on his ass and collecting millions, there are military people fighting and sacrificing to keep his freedoms secure for 2% of what he makes in a year.  But, why has the media dubbed him a hero?  What kind of demented media would ever impart one word of praise on anyone that is a selfish, self-serving dickwad.  And now…college teams and high school teams are following this idiot’s example because they feel they are victims of an oppressive society, too.

Do you like the direction our government is going?  According to the 2015 Pew Research report, only 19% of the respondents feel the government is doing a good job, ‘just about always (3%) or ‘most of the time (16%).  This is a far cry from say, 50 years ago when in 1965, about 65% of the people thought the government was doing a good job.  Do you know the last administration that achieved over a 50% approval rating?  That would be between 2000 and 2003 during the George W. Bush years.  My, how things have changed.  This country faces some real problems and some real enemies, and we are focused on political correctness and what bathrooms everyone can use – depending if you feel like a man or woman on any particular day.  How can you respect a government that appears to be lost for direction and unable to establish priorities.  How can you respect a government full of people more focused on getting reelected than of doing what is right for America?  This includes accepting money from special interest groups whose interests are nowhere near to what would be best for the country.  I have said it in previous blogs,  Grandpa T’s Rule #2, “A politician in power is most concerned about getting reelected, rather than in doing what is right for the country.”

So there you have it, readers.  Why are so many organizations losing respect?  The media and the government are less trusted and respected than a crooked used car salesman.  Our teachers and law enforcement personnel are attempting to function in areas that approach combat zones.  We have millionaire athletes disrespecting our flag and national anthem because they feel America is an oppressive country.  These are our children’s role models.

After all is said and done, I do know this; respect is earned, not granted.  If you have lost respect, then you are failing in your job, such as the government and the media.  I am determined to earn my respect, even if it means arm wrestling Spike one more time for the comfy TV chair.

How the Heck Did We Get Here: Blame it on the Baby Boomers??

I am sitting in my office scratching my head about the upcoming election.  How did we get to this place where neither candidate is trusted or believed, and a large number of citizens are considering a third party candidate just to avoid voting for the two primary party candidates.  Our country has become a country of entitlements, political correctness, and media manipulation.  I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but I think my generation contributed to this mess.

I am a baby boomer.  Most of the time, I am proud of being a ‘seasoned senior citizen.’  We baby boomers were born between the years of 1946 and 1964.  That would make the oldest of us 70 years old, and the youngest would be 52 years old.  In some respects, the younger generations would consider us ‘overly seasoned’ or perhaps, ‘fossilized.’

Our generation was the first that had a name.  We were those people born immediately after WWII. Take a bunch of war veterans and mix them with a bunch of women that haven’t had a real date in years, and BOOM, the world experienced an explosion of births.  Our parents were a tough bunch. They all lived through the Great Depression.  Then, as teenagers and 20 somethings, they fought and won WWII.   Tom Brokaw later referred to them as the ‘Greatest Generation.’  They knew of, and sometimes experienced the atrocities of WWII.  Immediately after WWII, we were back in Asia fighting a war in Korea.  It became apparent that not all countries wanted world-wide peace.  At the same time, numerous countries were conducting nuclear bomb tests.  That warm relationship between the US and Russia during WWII was not all that warm.  The possibility of a nuclear war hung over us for most of our childhood years.

This made our parents a rather tough bunch.  We were taught the difference between winning and losing.  We did not receive any ‘participation’ trophies.  We were instructed in ‘bomb drills,’ in the event of a nuclear attack.  Our teachers were always right and were always respected.  Any deviation from good behavior resulted in punishment.  In my case, I got spankings by my mom and five ‘beltings’ by big Daddy G.  I deserved every one of them.  This was not considered child abuse, it was considered parenting.  There was no pretense that our parents were going to be your ‘best friends.’  They were going to be disciplinarians, and they filled that role marvelously.  (My dad was not my friend until I was in my 30s.)  We were taught to be independent and to work hard.  Being blue collar was not a stigma.  It was instilled in us that if we wanted something bad enough, we could obtain it through hard work and diligence.  Anything was possible!

Every school day was started with the Pledge of Allegiance.  We sang our national anthem with fervor. Then, as we got older, we were called upon to represent our country in another war….the Viet Nam conflict.  Many volunteered or were drafted and performed their duty to fight in a war without a genuine purpose.  To this day, the best explanation for fighting this war was the ‘domino theory.’  That theory was the belief that if one country fell to Communism, then others will fall to Communism.  But Lyndon Johnson took this to the extreme by committing over 500K troops to Viet Nam.  He made Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) the 23rd largest American populated city in the world.  Over 57,000 Americans were killed in this war, with hundreds of thousands more suffering psychologically from what they had experienced and from the way they were treated once they returned home.  Americans believing they had served their country were now being spit upon and called ‘baby killers.’  Many lives were lost, and many more minds were destroyed because of this war.

So there you have it.  A very brief description of what formed and what affected the lives of the baby boomer generation.  What was my purpose for relating this information?  Well, because of the way we were reared, we, as a generation, decided not to be as strict and structured as our parents on our children and our grandchildren.  We became adherents of the ‘live and let live’ theory.  We became more concerned about ourselves and our families to the point of missing the gradual changes to our society.  And now, as I look back at the way our country has evolved since my childhood, I want to publicly apologize to Generation X, Generation Y (Millennials), and Generation Z as to how the Baby Boomers have failed you.

We Boomers need to apologize for the level of entertainment on our televisions and our movies. In our youth, all movies and TV programs were appropriate for all ages.  We did not need a rating system designating P, PG, R or anything else.  I am not a wilting flower, but it is difficult for me to believe the amount of profanity, sexual innuendo, sex, violence and gore that has permeated our entertainment.  Parents of today need to realize that your children are seeing this garbage and they are being affected by it.  How could they not see it?  It is on at prime time on numerous channels. Instead of having three good TV channels like when I was young, we now have hundreds of bad channels.  Look at how few good comedies we have today.  We had many while growing up.  Reality shows and cop shows seem to be the general format of TV today.   Garbage entertainment really began in the late 60s and early 70s.  TV was still somewhat regulated, but the movie industry had taken a definite turn for the worse.

Our Boomer generation invented the computer.  This led to the popularity of PC’s and laptops in every home. Technology is marvelous for all it can do.  But as one pundant has surmised, home computers have become a ‘pipeline for pornography.’  Do you think people are being affected by that?  Coupled up with violent video games, do you think our children are being affected by it?  I am not quite sure how we could have stopped this garbage, but I will apologize anyway.

I apologize that we appointed a Supreme Court that overturned term limits on federally elected officials.  Yes.  Legislation was actually passed during the Clinton administration limiting term limits, only to be overturned by the only organization without them…the Supreme Court.   Now we have career politicians and all the graft, corruption and personal enrichment that are a result of it. Decisions are being made every day by our elected officials for personal gain without regard for what is best for the country.

Our newspapers, magazines and TV news at least attempted to appear impartial during elections held in the past.  This year?  The gloves have come off with such notable organizations like the New York Times and the Washington Post not even attempting to hide their support of Hillary Clinton.  In previous elections, news organizations would show their support for a particular candidate in an editorial.  Not now.  They show their support by smearing their candidate’s opponent.  The latest is the release by the New York Times of Donald Trump’s 1995 tax returns which show a loss of over $900 million being carried into following years to reduce any future tax burden.  The crime here is not Trump’s taxes and carry-over as that is perfectly legal and by IRS statute allowed.  The real crime is the publishing of his taxes by the New York Times.  They claim that they received them in the mail. Yeah. Right.  Any CPA doing such a thing would lose their license to operate.  I believe the IRS themselves did it.  This is the same group that targeted conservative groups prior to the 2010 mid term election.  In particular, the Tea Party movement.  Who would investigate this matter?  Well, the FBI.  That same group that let Hillary off the hook for emails even though the FBI director’s brother provides legal services to the Clinton Foundation.  Sound fishy?

Isn’t it a shame that most of our printed media has reduced itself to the level of the National Enquirer?  In some instances, the National Enquirer is more believable.

Do you trust the government?  During the 60s, when the unemployment rate was reported, it actually meant the number of people who were without jobs that wanted them.  Today’s unemployment rate has been reported at less than 5%.  I assure you, this is for purely political purposes in an attempt to show how wonderful our economy is faring before this election.   In fact, the real unemployment rate is just under 10%.  Why?  Because so many people have quit attempting to find work.  But wait….there’s more.  Do you know how many households in America do not have anyone working?  Over 22%!  Yes.  Over 22% of the households do not have a breadwinner.  How are they surviving?  Working for cash?  Welfare?  How wonderful does our economic picture appear now?

Do you like our current policy of allowing anyone to use any bathroom depending on what sex they feel like on that particular day?

So, as I look back on my life, the goal I have always had is that I leave the world a better place than when I entered it.  My generation of Boomers has failed.  We have made mistakes.  We allowed the country to become so liberal, so politically correct, so dependent on the government and so militarily weak that it is not the same country of our youth.  We have taken free speech to such an extreme that we now have public disrespect for our flag and our national anthem being considered heroic. Yet, only 1% of our citizenry has served in the military to protect our country and our freedoms.  We now have groups of people attacking and killing our police because they think they are ‘entitled’ to do so. We have had deadly Islamic terrorist attacks on our people.  We allow people of unknown origin to enter this country every day without having any idea of their true purpose in coming here.  Many times, it is not to assimilate like previous immigrants.

I want to make a plea.  I know many people who are not enamored by either candidate.  For their personal beliefs, they are going to vote for a third party candidate.  That has been tried before with disastrous results.  Rather than giving George H.W. Bush a second term, Ross Perot siphoned off  enough conservative votes to give Bill Clinton the presidency without having received a plurality.  Do you want to vote for the Libertarian candidate who did not know what an ‘Aleppo’ is, or could not name his favorite foreign leader?  If you like the policies instituted by the present administration, by all means you should vote for Hillary Clinton.  If you truly believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction, then do not waste your vote on a third party candidate, hold your nose and vote for Donald Trump.

I am considerably older than those members of Gen X, Y, and Z and here I am apologizing for the direction our country has taken in the last 60 years.  My fervent hope is that in 30 or 40 years, you will not be writing a blog apologizing for the bad decisions your generation has made and suffering from the consequences of bad decisions.

Tomorrow Can Learn From Yesterday: A Lesson For Today’s Americans

Both my Houston ‘nefoo’ and my Cajun editor say they prefer my blogs which tie in my adolescent experiences with a current topic.  Considering what is happening in the world, I have decided to author a  blog that only relates to my experiences growing up as a Midwestern kid in the 1950s.

Here are the current world events trending as I am typing away:  ISIS is being bombed, a policeman was shot in Ferguson, Missouri, and the Americans are having their hats (this is a G rated blog, so I won’t say asses) handed to them in the Ryder Cup.  A volcano has just erupted in Japan, and a man has been arrested in Oklahoma for a beheading.  Egads!  After all of that, my recollections are not just a ray of sunshine, they are a beam of nostalgic bliss!

The biggest differences between today and the 1950s are undoubtedly the unbelievable technological advances in nearly all aspects of daily living.

I can still remember when neither of my sets of grandparents had electricity nor indoor plumbing.  One set of my grandparents remedied this shortfall before the end of the 50s.  My other pair of grandparents passed away in the late 70s, never having embraced these eventual neccesities in their home.  Those grandparents had both an outhouse and an outdoor pump-handled well.  Their illumination was made available with kerosene lamps, and their heat was obtained through use of a wood stove that was also used for cooking.  When my aunt needed to iron her clothes, she heated metal pieces on the stove that clipped into a handle.  It looked like a modern iron except that the business side of the iron was removable so it could be heated.  They had two or three of these removable ‘iron bottoms’ so that when one got cold, she placed it back on the stove and replaced it with a hot bottom.  You would only find these in an antique store today, and I admit I have not seen one for years.

I loved staying with those grandparents and I did so often.  They lived near the railroad, so many times in the middle of the night, my bed would tremble with the passing of a train.  I loved it!  There was nothing quite so comforting as feeling the house cooling in the winter as the stove fire was dying, while I was buried under a warm mountain of blankets and quilts.  I do have to admit that going to the outhouse was a challenge, especially in winter.  Not only did you face the prospect of wading through snow on a very cold, windy night, but then you had to put your butt down on a very cold piece of wood.

My grandmother was a magician with that wood stove.  The best pies, cakes, rolls and roasted meats came out of that oven.  She did everything on that stove that anyone could do with a modern stove.

Most people today could not fathom living in a house such as my grandparents had.  They lived there for decades and raised three children in that house.  They lived well in that cozy home and died happy and fulfilled.  It never occurred to them to live any other way.  I enjoyed staying in that house more than any other place outside my own childhood home.

Another big technological advancement was television.  We had a black and white 19″ console TV in 1952.  We were ahead of 90% of my hometown in that regard.  We had three channels which were the big three networks, ABC, CBS and NBC.  About 10 years later, we had a fourth independent channel.  That was huge!  It was particularly huge because we now could get American Bandstand on that channel hosted by Dick Clark and originating from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania!  I was in my preteen years and if you did not watch American Bandstand with the music and the dancing, you were a nobody and a hick. (You did not want to be considered a hick in an agricultural community!)  At the time, I thought Philadelphia, wherever that was, had to be comparable to Oz!  I vowed I would one day go there.  It had to be beyond cool!  (I have yet to do so!)

In 1963 we got a 19″ color console TV.  We were the third family in town to own one!  It cost my dad $750 to buy that TV.  That was a princely sum and equaled about six weeks’ net pay for him.  I instantly became popular with my classmates.  The first shows we watched in color?  Bonanza and the Wonderful World of Disney.  Both were great family-oriented shows.

We got our first phone when I was in the third grade.  I can still remember how I proudly reported to my teacher that we now had a phone and that our phone number was 349-R2.  (Yes, this really was our first phone number!)   What does the R2 stand for?  We were on a party line.  Our neighbor, who had a phone before us, would  be notified of a phone call by the very personable operator with one ring.  We would be notified of a call with two rings.  Thus the party line.  Our neighbor could pick up the phone at any time and listen to our conversations.  We could do the same.

There is one advantage to not having every person in the US carrying a cell phone.  Parents would always know who their children were associating with, because they answered the phone.  “Ring-Ring.  Hello?   Is little Grandpa T at home?  Who may I say is calling?  It’s little Johnny, the local smoking and drinking teenager.  I’m sorry little Johnny, little Grandpa T is at his grandmother’s house, and they don’t have a phone.”  Of course, I am at home, but you get the picture.

I can remember reading in a Popular Mechanic’s magazine article, as a teenager, about the future use of automated teller machines that would dispense money in lieu of having to go into a bank to receive cash.  ‘Are you kidding me?  It will never happen!  Crooks will crack those machines like a cheap, defective walnut!’  Now we can’t live without ATMs, and we seldom go into our bank.

So much can be said for the technological advances between the 50s and today.  The differences are comparable to the difference between a kite and an airplane.

It appalls me that over 15% of Americans are dependent on food stamps.  Both of my grandmothers had gardens.  Both sets of my grandparents lived through the Great Depression.  Out of necessity, they both took gardening to a science.  My local grandmother, the one without electricity, had a garden at her house, and a bigger one on our farm.  We grew everything with everyone in our family contributing to the welfare of that garden.  Being that my grandmother had survived the Depression, it made for interesting eating habits.  For instance, peas mature and ripen for 2-3 weeks.  When they would ripen, you could expect to eat peas for two meals a day for those three weeks.  (My grandmother made our meals as my mother was working.)  The same thing happened with every vegetable that we raised.  Once it ripened, you could expect to be inundated with it until the growing season ended.  In the mind of a Depression survivor, nothing was to be wasted.  If it could not be canned or frozen, it was, by God, going to be eaten!  That garden regularly fed eleven members of our family and any friends or family that visited.

It does not take acres of land to plant a garden.  A 10′ x 12′ plot could supply lots of food for a family of four.  Carrots, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, peas, lettuce, radishes, cabbages and many other vegetables can all be grown with minimal space.  Some of those vegetables can be grown in pots, thus eliminating the need for any garden space.  Gardening has become a ‘lost science.’  It should be revived in light of the number of people dependent on food stamps.  Maybe we should have fewer food stamps distributed along with vegetable seeds.  If I were underfed or undernourished, you can be sure I would have a garden.  Let’s plant that idea amongst the hungry.

One of my grandparents had Polish heritage and the other had German heritage.  All four of my grandparents were born in the US, but most of my great-grandparents came from the ‘old country.’

My Polish grandparents would speak Polish in the house.  In particular, they would discuss what I would get for Christmas in Polish.  I eventually caught on, and eventually figured out what I was getting.  They never, ever spoke Polish outside the home.  They were Americans through and through.  My grandfather served in WWI, and his two sons served in WWII.

My other grandmother grew up in the US, speaking only German.  She did not learn English until she was 10 or 11 years old.  Once she became an adult, she never allowed German to be spoken in her house.  My mother and her siblings never learned any German because Grandma became all-American and wanted her children to be the same.  Grandma’s siblings felt the same way, and so I never heard any of them speak a word of German.

The purpose of this?  My relatives, all from European countries, could not wait to assimilate into American culture.  In their own minds, they could not assimilate quickly enough.  There was not going to be any ‘press 2 for Polish’ or ‘press 3 for German’ as far as they were concerned.  They would have been appalled and embarrassed by the suggestion.  Without question, all of my ancestors came here to be independent, to be free, and to have the opportunity to be a part of the great American society.  They embraced their country of residence and the future it offered both them.

Our education was also different than today.  We said the Pledge of Allegiance every day.  It was the first thing we did every morning from first grade through high school graduation.

Teachers had absolute authority.  If one of my teachers decided to ‘drop a dime’ about my behavior  to my dad, I could expect my dad to ‘drop a dollar’ on me.  My parents, like most parents, would do this without fail and without questioning the teacher.  This would not end well for me.  The husbands of three of my first six teachers worked with my dad.  He knew about everything I did.

Parent-teacher conferences occurred after the first nine weeks of school.  This was considered a social event in our small town.  I had 60 classmates.  All 60 of their mothers would attend these conferences.  Most of the mothers would buy a new dress for the occasion.  My mother attended all twelve in my childhood, even if she had to change her work schedule, which she had to do often.

All I can say about typical Baby Boomer education is that it was good enough to invent computers, mobile phones and all the technological advances that young people enjoy today.   Having said that, I want to point out that a select few of the Baby Boomer generation actually invented these items.  The rest of us are still trying to figure out how to use them.  Where are the grandkids when you need them?

Thanks for allowing me to reminisce.

PS:  On September 14, 2014, Common Sense by Grandpa T surpassed 100,000 unique hits. Grandpa T’s goal is to educate people on the value of common sense in our ever-changing world, one impressionable mind at a time.