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Friday, May 8, 2020


     Quality of life is the dilemma, should we avoid being with humans so we do not become sick, or is it worth getting sick to be with people, or is being with people the way to avoid getting sick, that is the question.

      Whether it is more important for older humans to share the company of others or wither away in isolation. Is part of life enjoying or being in the company of others as a group. Can we sustain isolation as an existence, is it more important to be in the company of others and risk physical illness rather than physical well being all alone in a stagnant universe. Is cyber friendship a measure of quality of life or a figment of imagination.

      Is being in a cave with a controlled environment a quality of life we can sustain, will the isolation create a medieval environment of slower growth, a retardation of civilization.

      Is the decision by the 'healthy young' a valid proposal to lock up, isolate the fragile infirmed and older population, can their isolation be accurately considered  prisons if those persons are denied the company of family or friends, is this prison a quality of life they would choose were they given the choice for themselves as opposed to have it mandated for them.

      Can we say it is just, to isolate the immune compromised or elderly because we want them to live longer, less fulfilling lives. Are the fragile the meek who will inherit the earth. But alas, that is not so, for the immune compromised are statistically the majority of whom have been consumed by this virus, or is their isolation a purpose for population reduction. Can we justify locking up the weak and elderly because we want to save them for better days. Do they have the right to suffer with the rest of us. Why would grandparents, and parents want not to be with their offspring all the time.

      Is the internet a quality of life we ought adapt to on a permanent basis. Have we the right to risk ourselves and others for being social animals.

      As a species who has chosen globalization for a better quality of life, meeting and greeting others as a social betterment how can choosing isolation as a preferred lifestyle.

      Have we become so afraid of the next chapters of our lives to not venture into the unknown nor risk everything for experience, is fear of death or fear of frailty a route to happiness, or is happiness no longer a right to pursue. Are we willing to be healthy unhappy characters in this play of life.

      It has been said that the planet is overpopulated and as such cannot sustain the species, or is it just others choosing whom to risk, governments have chosen who gets to live and who does not get to live. Governments have allotted personal protective equipment, drugs, and care as well as choosing who can earn a living and who can not. Is this just a new selective breeding regime.

      There are very few nursing homes whose residents and staff have not been decimated by the decree in New York State/City to not transport ill to hospitals for medical treatment. The National Government is also choosing not to support those states which have financial difficulties known as deficits because in the past they have not budgeted prudently, as well as choosing which industries to 'cripple'. Eateries are shutdown in favor of standardized foods for the masses. It seems as though all choice is being made for the people, all the thinking is done for the masses, all the freedoms are being withheld 'for the good of all'.

      Poverty will breed ignorance, hunger will breed want, ignorance will breed fear, and society slides back into the darker ages in favor of saving a few, and the few who are left will fight for the miniscule bits of civilization still present in a repressive global dilemma.

      Again, circumstance begs the question, is quality of life less important than long life, can isolation breed a civilized species, are forced circumstances sustainable to maintain a civilized species, what right does an individual have when faced with infection, we lock up drunk drivers yet we classify alcoholism as a disease, we lock up people who try to terminate their own lives, but we as a species allow governments to choose who gets to survive or we allow governments to choose who gets to die, governments get to choose families who survive and what their survival will look like, there is now unnatural selection to sustain the species.

      So again the question begs, is quality of life or longevity of life the preferred route, is a good life attainable now - for the majority rather than the minority, are a select few the Lords of the Manor and the rest the peasants or serfs who do their bidding for scraps.

      Are the protestors wrong, those who choose to venture into the sunshine to breathe the air experience the earth and enjoy the sky. Is fresh air only for a  select group of the species and denied as a right for others.

      Albeit, the planet is finite, and 'man' is depleting all its resources, thus, a lesser human population is warranted, the question beckons, though someone inevitably will choose how to reduce the population, does the population have the right, 'if that's all there is - to keep dancing, and break out the booze and have a ball'.


Saturday, November 23, 2019

I usta ----an ode to GOOGLE

         I usta love google, back when we were using dialup,  sometimes the connection crashed or dilly dallied before the info was posted, but it was so exciting to have all that data in front of us, with links to maybe a million segues from one topic.

         I usta love switching pages and swallowing all the facts my eyes could absorb, food was irrelevant, sleep unnecessary. It was every library on the planet served on a platter before me, a meal for my mind, as I sat there sucking up every drop I felt 'the little grey matter' expanding as my mind blew up like a balloon with new words to learn along with tidbits of nonsense to add flavor and color changing every word noun verb adverb adjective sentence paragraph essay and digit the eyes could see.

          The brilliance of knowledge from all those reams of paper satisfying every need of food and sleep, toothpicks were unnecessary to keep the eyes open at all hours of the night, while the desktop held up bones who refused to get up to go to bed.

           I usta love the excitement of learning at a rate faster than the speed of light, it changed my world, my days, my nights the screen no longer a booob tube, and a happiness so fulfilling I forgot what the frig was.

          Those were the days my friends, when knowledge was shared and the world was at peace, we all were to busy finding answers to the questions we always wanted answered and the questions we never thought to ask. "What are you doing?" was always answered with "GOOGLING!" And all was well with the world.

          I usta love Google, now I don't even like Google. I pay to have my phone number unpublished and private, then the phone rings and it is someone who hasn't been in touch for more than twenty years. "How did you get our number?", "I googled your name and it was there."

          I usta love google when I could ask a question and get an answer without ads selling everything I neither want nor need nor ever heard of being offered by every company in every part of the globe, along with stuff that has no close relation to any word in the question asked.

         I usta love to think of google as the greatest most generous company every and I usta love to turn on the computer to see what I would learn and where I would go until they started offering answers to my emails before I even got to read them.

         And I usta love google before it became a tv station filled with ads that interrupt the privacy of my brain, before it flooded my eyes with the trash that got me to turn off the tv and the flotsam sold as product information and genuine stupid copy.

        So now my usta love google is requiem for what would have been the greatest invention since Johannes Guttenberg's Printing Press, the machine that made the term serf archaic and brought civilization to the door of greatness opening it enough for google to slam it in our face building a wall instead. Change is inevitable and google has not made it for the better. THE END.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Gravesend, a post war vignette. by miceLLe with Judy Crowe Olsen


The train leaves the tunnel in New York City, travels beneath the East River, and slowly creeps into the daylight, up the elevated track and the train stops of the F line above McDonald Avenue in Brooklyn. The F train travels north and south through the borough. There is a trolley route below with its overhead electric cable wheel creating a spark as it rolls along the wire generating the electric charge needed to power the trolley along its route; bi-level mass transportation, high and low, carrying people between work, play and home. Passengers on the train view the sky, occasionally white clouds dotted with shapes, the designs of roofs, church spires, treetops, telephone poles with wires stretching through the borough. Trolley travellers view the steel supports for the elevated system, two-family homes, mostly rowhouses made of brick, some businesses and the occasional car and truck.

The elevated train tracks long links of steel rest on wood beams that darken the streets below with shadows. Small slivers of daylight peek through between the railroad ties, little flickers of light that sparkle a dance on the street below as the train cars move over the tracks. The street drenched in darkness; morning, noon, dusk, evening, a cloak of night, save for the slice of daylight between the beams or the reflection of the lighted train cars, on-off, on-off, an eerie dance of time in motion, as the trolley wheel illuminates a hint of light, disappears, sparkles, fades.

Each train station platform along the F train's route is the same stock green that may well be the color used to paint army equipment and park benches. Each surface repeatedly covered in uneven layers, showing all the years and strokes from brushes, heavy coats of liquid green drying to a wall of the past, present and future. The same strokes applied year after year, a coating of history, drab green layers, hit with rain, wind, snow and sleet; the breath of the world whose lips kiss every stroke of green, carrying along the dirt of the day, marking its place in time. A passenger walks by the un-noticed barrier to the elements. Walls, built long ago, leaned on by thousands that never pay attention to the history, the stories etched by the days. The wall remembers, records, caresses: changes in hairdos worn by both men and women, lapels on men's suits, the length of women's dresses, dates on the daily newspapers, headline events of the day with the languages voiced by the latest wave of immigrants arriving on its shores. Generations, moving along the platforms, stations in time, visited and ignored. The floors of the platforms dotted with bits of discarded gum, blackened by the thousands of footsteps, never removed by washing, never scraped away when the platform is cleaned, a mark in time with no description, only the memory of being chewed. Signs on the walls note the intersecting streets that bisect McDonald Avenue; the solitary difference between every identical stop, the way one knows the train has arrived somewhere.

Some signs on the southbound train stops are the same, they tell you where the trains were coming from, to remind you where you were, in case you have forgotten: 'FROM CITY'. The signs tend to evoke images of days long gone, when the cars of the train were solid steel and seats covered with rattan webbing. Days when neither the cars nor the passengers would bounce up and down as they rode the tracks, when women wore long dresses with skirts to the ankles, high collars and long sleeves, large hats to protect the skin from the sun, gloves - women never ventured outside the home without gloves instructed to touch nothing. The women were grasping the arms of gentlemen dressed in suits, with shoes topped in spats, canes on their arms, a glance at pocket watches, anticipating their holiday at the seaside. It is a quiet time with no radios interrupting the silence, no crowds of standing room only passengers pressed together. A leisurely trip to the seaside for the wealthy elite. A time when leaving the city meant an adventure across the water into the wilderness, leaving behind the pavement and bricks. East side platforms northbound route signs tell you where you are going, 'TO CITY', a reminder of the days when Brooklyn was wilderness, farmland, country; wide open spaces with nothing but the aroma of the salt air.

The building entrance to the train repair yard is across from the Avenue X station, a three story facade with the entrance parallel to the corner where the sidewalks meet. The facade has more than two dozen small windows which seem to have never been washed. They are darker than the dull green paint of the frames holding them steadfast, fading into the shadow of the elevated train station and nearby structures, it blends into oblivion, almost unseen. The building so well camouflaged, shaded by the elevated station, darkened by the dirt of time with the tiniest of light spots seen through the dirty windows; the largest structure in the area, unseen, a science fiction wall disappearing.

Many Americans of the era remained in their neighborhoods, where the few shops nearby were owned and managed by the neighbor who lived close enough to walk to work and all the goods the community needed could be acquired within walking distance of their homes. The automobile was a novelty. The population of these communities were kept busy with the chores of living. The few modern conveniences were electricity, indoor plumbing and heat from coal. Many of the useful kitchen tools were worked by hand. Those who had meat grinders would turn a crank to force the meats through the machine to be chopped for sausage. Toasters were gadgets propped on the gas burner to toast bread, the bread was propped teepee style and turned by hand to brown the other side. Dishwashers were the children old enough to be trusted not to break any of the utensils. Laundry was always dried outside on a clothesline after being passed through a hand-cranked spinner-ringer on the washer to press out as much of the moisture as possible.
For amusement many of the residents played musical instruments, such as banjo, accordion, harmonica, and sang the songs of their heritage. Radio was a novelty. At night there were programs with stories read by actors, painting pictures of suspense, the nourishment for the imagination complete with sound effects like lightning, rain and gunshots. A trip to the movies was a special event for the whole family, an outing they could occasionally afford. The movie houses, to attract attendance, offered dishes, each week a different item, cup, saucer, soup tureen, at reduced prices; a bonus for going to the movies. Inside, the theatre always had a baroque decor, heavy velvet covered chairs, gargoyles on the woodwork, an enormous set of heavy curtains opened to expose the giant movie screen. One price of admittance gave a movie, with a travelogue, newsreel and cartoon, or two complete movies. You could walk into the theater, in the middle of the movie and stay all day.

In the 1930s, construction of the Belt System, a series of four parkways circling two boroughs of New York began. Three of those parkways are called the Belt Parkway. Part of this construction included filling in the swamp that separated Coney Island from Brooklyn. Before the construction of the parkway, young people from Brooklyn who attended Abraham Lincoln High School on Coney Island took a raft traversing the swamp to get to school. And now this peninsular is still called Coney Island, though it is part of the borough of Brooklyn.

Ocean Parkway runs parallel to McDonald Avenue, another north to south route in Brooklyn beginning at the southernmost tip of Prospect Park. A roadway fashioned after the Champs Elysees in Paris, a tree lined road interrupted by pedestrian areas dotted with benches and a dirt road for horseback-riding. Across the road are more trees that shade the whole area, benches, and a separate path for bicycles. A luxurious road in Brooklyn, where leisurely crowds could stroll on Sundays, gather to chat while sitting in the shade of the trees that line the road, or sit and watch the few automobiles that passed by on the road, no truck traffic permitted. Others watch children at play, read a newspaper, book, or simply observe the goings-on around them. The autos were heavy black steel machines, traveling eleven miles for every gallon of gasoline. Once in awhile an expensive luxury car could be seen that did sport a different color, like grey. They all had bits of chrome and hood ornaments. Mercury was the largest or longest, a sleek lady with a long gown, leading the way down the road as she sat atop the hood of the vehicle.

Gravesend, a section of Brooklyn is a parcel of land given to Lady Moody in the 1600's as a haven for persecuted Puritans. Across from her home is a graveyard, said to have an underground tunnel from one grave to her home, an escape route. The young boys of the postwar era challenged each other to venture into the cemetery in search of the underground passage, especially at Halloween. During the 1950s there were still areas with dirt roads and farms in Gravesend.

Those who had telephones shared party lines, telephone numbers used by more than one household at different locations. If you picked up the phone in your home to make a call and heard someone speaking you hung up, allowing them their privacy, you tried again later to make a call. The American Telephone and Telegraph Company owned and operated the telephone system from coast to coast, the company was affectionately known as Ma Bell, and was considered part of the United States national security system. In those days you could call the operator to ask for the time to set your clocks or you would wait until the church bells chimed on the hour half and quarter past.

When some of the dirt roads were paved, as water and sewer-lines under cement sidewalks were installed, the children, who then scraped their knees on the unforgiving cement, objected, seeing no need to replace the dirt with cement, wishing the dirt back where they played.

Even though the streets were paved, there were still vendors with horse drawn vehicles selling their wares. One vendor was the grinder. When homemakers heard the familiar sound his bell made it meant he was getting closer to their home. They would stop what they were doing, go outside with their knives and scissors and wait their turn to have their tools sharpened. His wagon had a grinding wheel that he moved by pressing his feet up and down on a lever that turned the stone.

Ice-boxes were the refrigerators of the day, fueled by blocks of ice delivered to the home. The ice-man with his pick in hand would pick away at a large chunk of ice to chop off a piece perhaps eighteen inches by twelve inches, he would grip the picked off chunk with a large pair of tongs, hurl the cold ice wedge up onto a piece of cloth draped at his shoulder and carry it into the customer's home into the icebox. He was usually missing a few fingers caused either by frostbite or accident while chipping.

Coal used to fuel the home heating systems was delivered by a motorized truck, a flatbed with wooden walls. The coal was shovelled into barrels; the barrel then, continuously rolled on it's bottom rim made its way to the back of the residence where the barrel was tilted downward to pour the coal through a small window-like opening at the base of the building. The coal would roll out of the barrel onto a chute, then pulled by gravity onto the existing pile of coal already on the floor in the basement. The coal deliveryman was monochrome, covered from head to toe with coal dust, cap to shoes, shoulders to fingertips. He had no discernable features but the white of his eyes; he was a phantom shadow, the coal-man, an apt name for a person covered in bits of coal, made his delivery and was gone.

The littlest girl was always the one chosen to go through the opening to the chute and into the coal bin, to open the basement door when her sister would lose the door key. She was small enough to fit through the opening and tall enough to reach the lock on the door. Her blue uniform jumper did not show the black but her white underwear did. There was never any mention, she thought no one noticed. Early in the morning you would hear the milkman with his glass bottles clanging in their wire carry case, six bottles tapping each other slightly. He would place the day's delivery on the stoop by the door and pick up the empty bottles left outside the night before. An occasional note to leave more milk was rolled and placed in the bottle opening. The horses pulling another wagon had fruits and vegetables neatly stacked along the sides of the wagon. No bell was heard, yet the women knew when he arrived.

The bread-man, the ice-cream man, the baker, all drove the streets with their goods. Even the insurance man came to the home with his book of clients accounts, pages in his ledger were so dense that the leather covers with their handles were a foot apart. He would come to the house to collect the monthly pennies for the insurance policies. He would be invited into the home where he would open his book to the page with the client's name and write the entry in its correct column.

The logic after WWII: If you unwrapped a piece of gum while you were walking down the street or finished a pack of cigarettes, discard the wrapper or package on the street, it creates jobs. A man in a green uniform, with a green metal barrel mounted on wheels and a large push broom and shovel, would walk along the curb sweeping the debris into a pile, picking up the trash with the shovel, and depositing it into the barrel. A man with a job that the whole community contributed to keeping employed.

The nights were quiet, most residents resting in the evening. One could hear the train wheels screeching to a halt at the station, stopping even if there was no one entering or leaving the cars, the bellows from the fog horns of ships and boats traversing the Verazzano Narrows. The fog horns beckoned those not yet a slumber, to dream of being aboard ship, on deck in fog, listening to the waves, feeling the mist of salt in the air, gazing forward at nothing, seeing a faraway place, a sun drenched island with clear blue water washing upon white sands shaded by palm trees; a visit to warm climes to remove the chill of eve.

Back in the real world, a home away from home was the local public school, P.S. 216. It was a big brick building prominent in the community with a yard for assembly, basketball or other childhood challenges, all enclosed within a tall cyclone fence. Beyond the fence the sidewalk perimeter was dotted with sycamore trees, the few trees in the neighborhood. Inside the building, besides attending classes, children practiced for fire drills and civil defense; getting out of their seats and moving under their desks, with their hands crossed behind the neck, their protection in case of a nuclear attack. After the three o'clock hour struck and the end of formal classes, children played in the schoolyard in warm weather, played shuffleboard, ping pong, basketball, and an endless variety of entertaining, engrossing activities indoors until their parents returned home from work or mothers finished their chores at home. It was a young person's world, with minimal supervision and maximum intellectual stimulation, a safe world for children (those were the days when kids were called children) to discover their ability to coordinate their bodies and brains, a fun place to socialize with several ages of young people and observe the young people's world. It was a welcomed space to visit, not a place to run away from. Some of the teachers stayed after class to supervise the children. But mostly they watched children amuse and enjoy themselves. It was a familiar environment, a place where the children knew what was around every corner in the building, where the stairs led, and what the classrooms were like, with their dark green shades that lowered from the top and rose from the bottom, black chalk boards, wooden desks and chairs.

Outside the school, at the corner to act as crossing guard, was the 'cop on the beat', a patrolman everyone knew by name; a tall lean fellow with fine features,slight build and a big smile, he greeted hello to all. His slight build was accented with hat, white gloves, notepad, billy club, flashlight, gun, bullets and heavy shoes, which all seemed to keep him weighed down so as not to blow away in the west wind that always roared on Avenue X. He smiled in the winter ,summer, spring and fall. He walked door to door checking into the shops along his beat and he knew the shop owners by name. The street was his office, he patrolled his route inspecting everything.

Saturday mornings saw the elementary school boys sitting in the barber chairs for their weekly haircuts including trimming sideburns and neck for fifty cents. One barber was a retired seaman who had a large parrot who sat in a cage by the shop window. The parrot was always heard cursing in Italian.

In the mid 1950's officers in patrol cars replaced the 'beat cop', policemen drove up and down the avenue, two to a car. They seldom left their vehicles, never saying hello, never acknowledging pedestrians. They became isolated behind closed doors moving down the streets, transient motorists separated from the community, not hearing the sounds around them or visiting with the people they protected. A separation between people and their protectors, a severed link within the community, a lost relationship with children and shop owners. The bond was gone, the police no longer knew the community and the community only saw patrol cars drive by.

Besides the police as the arm of the law in the community, the church set rules for women and children to follow, promising them eternal happiness. Women performed social works, assisted in keeping the church clean and the children in order, made things which were sold for the benefit of the church, such as clothing, linens, food stuffs. Organized crime (aka the Mafia) the men's rule-maker controlled every aspect of living within the geographic area, threatening physical harm, pain and death. They dominated the men who worked on the docks, choosing which crates were to 'fall' off the trucks and break open during loading. They fought amongst themselves for the lucrative black market goods, especially cigarettes and alcohol. They also ran the 'numbers' racket, getting many shop owners to take bets on the last three numbers posted in the daily newspapers of the total mutual handled at the horse racing tracks. Whether or not the total monies handled at any track was the actual number that appeared in the newspaper the next morning was questionable, still, everyone checked to see what the numbers were, and listened to hear if anyone they knew had won. In the Gravesend section there was seldom any crime. Though some nights, lying in bed, one would hear gunshots break the silence, while the front page of the next morning edition of the Daily News would show a photo of someone from the neighborhood shot dead in a car. There were places the children were ordered, in no uncertain terms, to stay out of, and persons whom to avoid, "cross the street if you see this person", "do not speak to them".

Many of the men in the neighborhood had nicknames, Johnny Nose had a beak like a parrot, Fishy worked at the Fulton Fish Market and always smelled of fish, Brillo had hair on top of his head that looked like the scouring pads by that name. Juney, short for junior, Chick, Blackie, Iggy, to name a few. The kids knew the names of all the men who were always outside, socializing, tanned by the sun. Yet the women, mothers, were invisible, indoors, not seen speaking with other women, always inside unheard and unseen.

In springtime, the church would run one of their two annual fundraising events, a parade around the streets of the parish. The parade was lead by altar boys dressed in the garb they wore during Mass, each carrying candles, with one altar boy out front, carrying a pole with a cross atop it. There was a float, pulled by some adult men, with a white cloth draped over it and atop, a statue of their Blessed Mother. There were dollar bills and an occasional five dollar bill pinned to the cloth, collected block by block, door to door from the devout in the community. Trailing behind the 'float' was the local school band or Boy Scout Band playing music. During one spring parade a particularly mischievous neighborhood boy ran to the back of his house and out again. The other children thought he went to get money to pin on the float. Instead, he sat on the curb sucking a lemon in the hopes the boys in the band who were playing horns would blow sour notes. The other church fundraiser was a bazaar held in the church basement. Vendors were hired to operate games of chance, played for prizes donated by local businesses and church goers; carnival glass, toys, household items and clothing. It was the only time the children were allowed out on a school night.

Most of the homes were two family, detached brick buildings. The backyards, little pieces of land often relegated to 'Victory Gardens', foods planted to support the war effort, remnants of the individual contribution to the effort to win the war. One house had an ancient apple tree with a bark split into three separate shoots; the triplets were the perfect base to hold the plank of wood that served as 'treehouse' to the children who were able to maneuver the three foot height to independence. Although the tree would soon be removed, it was the tallest structure in all the yards as far as they could see. Except for the trees dotting the school perimeter and those in the new park a block away, trees were not seen in the neighborhood, just cement sidewalks, and brick buildings. There was plenty of sunshine on the streets, labeled East and West ,First ,Second, and so on. The Avenues were noted as alphabetic, Avenues A through Z. In the mornings, these avenues sported a westerly wind that cut through cloth, its pins and needles striking the face of anyone who braved the gale forces to reach the train station;cartoon characters being blown back into their own footsteps before they could advance. It was a solitary struggle to reach the station in time and find a bit of shelter to restore feeling to the face. Extra time was always allotted to battle the wind and all the step-backs enroute, as one held onto a hat or handbag, the climb up to the platform was almost a reward for the struggle; the first stop was the station attendant in his little cage, bundled with scarf, gloves, heavy coat, wool hat, prepared to make change for anyone wishing to buy a token to gain entrance to the platform. Then the next staircase, to stand on the platform to wait in the cold and wind for the train.

Down near the end of the alphabet, halfway between Avenues Y and Z, the city built a cement park. The curbsides were dotted with Sycamore trees, and the park proper was surrounded by a two-story Cyclone fence. Fortunately for the little people, someone cut a hole in the fence its bottom near the baseball diamond ( because that gate was always locked) for the tiniest to fit through, so they could make a straight line to the swings instead of a u-turn to the entrance at Avenue Y which was so far away and they would tire halfway there. The park was a foundation of cement built over with metal swings, monkey bars, seesaws, slide, handball courts with two-sided cement walls, chess and checker cement tables and benches, a cement water pond that sprinkled water into a pool about eight inches deep, a sand lot surrounded by iron railing to keep animals out, and a building with separate men's and women's rooms as well as a storeroom where the chess and checkers were handed out by the park attendant. There was a shorter Cyclone fence around the swings, so the children who were watching could not get close enough to get their teeth knocked out by the children who were brave enough to sit on the metal seats and burn bare legs in the the summer heat as they tried to swing high enough to have their seats parallel with the pipe atop the contraption that held the swings. It was a challenge, as much as climbing the stairs on the slide to reach the top. Even though the slide was metal and also burned bare skin on the way down, it was not the slide that was important, it was reaching the top of the stairs that counted.

Once the park was built, Sunday mornings from early spring to fall would never be the same, no one was able to sleep past eight a.m. The young men from the neighborhood and surrounding areas would gather for the local baseball game, with their bats, gloves and catchers mitts. The roar from the crowd, an enormous wave breaking, bellowed for every run, hit and save, the echo broke the morning silence, checked by a baritone vibration of spontaneous appreciation.

And as the men enjoyed playing the game, the women enjoyed listening to the radio broadcasts of the Brooklyn Dodgers games as they stood ironing the day's laundry; listening to the game more important than what they were ironing. It seemed all of Brooklyn was baseball focused and when the Brooklyn Dodgers won the pennant, the excitement in the streets was like nothing else;fireworks, car horns beeping,and flag waving residents of the borough had their New Year's, Fourth of July, and Christmas celebrations all together, in a last happy summer in Brooklyn before the Dodgers moved to L.A..
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Gravesend, a post war vignette. by miceLLe with Judy Crowe Olsen
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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Mr Kapernick

Dear Editor,

  Jack Krier seems to enjoy insulting dissenters. He writes about why someone should not disagree with his point of view. In the case of 'Kapernick - An Ungrateful Jerk, he blew a wonderful opportunity. 

  Jack instead, should have thanked Mr Kapernick for showing the greatness of America. A one in a million star, standing alone, for what he believed is an injustice to be brought to the nations attention, and he was not arrested, nor shot, where else but in America.

  Whether or not Mr Kapernick's point of view is representative of the plight of American's of color is something persons of color can only speak of. Mr Krier is not a person of color, so how can he say the star is wrong. He does not even offer any statistics to prove his case.  Mr Krier points out the good fortune of a star and the fact that a star has been recognized even though he is a person of color. Most stars are rewarded, they are the cream of the crop, the best of the best, thus, the color of the star is an aside, and their skill is rewarded, not the color of their skin.

  Mr Kapernick has shown us all what is in praise of America, with all her ills, she has given all of us the opportunity to voice our dismay. Why would any of us want something swept under the carpet if it is an issue that needs the attention of the nation. 

  It is a fact that the war on drugs is biased against minorities, but there is no one working to overturn the power of the alcohol lobby. We are a nation of special interests and money is what is the rule of law. So while Mr Kapernick has the opportunity to amass a small fortune most of us will only dream of, most of us do not and will not excel. And if we laud his abilities why do we not laud his willingness to put himself again on the line and say what is on his mind, even if we do not agree with him.  

  That one man in America is standing or sitting for what he believes is truly what is great about America and we all owe him applause for reminding us this is a free nation, and as all nations it has some flaws.


Saturday, September 3, 2016


   It is fifteen years since the towers fell in New York City, and the war is no closer to an end. Instead, what is happening is a displacement of millions of persons, stressing the resources of nations and neighbors. People are forced into destitution with no home nor opportunity.

  Governments accepting humanitarian challenges while destroying the homes and habitat of those whom are now destitute. And the unseen enemy persists. The battlefronts are being bombarded with bombs and napalm, while the enemy lurks in our backyards.

  There is no one with whom to communicate, no one to beg for a truce. Women are being kidnapped, children slaughtered, soldiers buried.

  Where is the discussion for appeasement, the barter for better tomorrows. The walls have ears, yet no one hears.

  We are in the new dark ages, education is dispensed with in lieu of food or shelter.  The hungry can not learn. This is the new generation of ignorance, darker than the dark ages, despair greater than the great depression, and the peoples of the world are threatened by the unknown, the enemy with no face, the battlefield with no border, the weapons everything possible.

  Today, with less opportunity, less education, less relief, less progress for a quality of life to afford the human race to advance beyond fear and ignorance. We, the thinking people have succumbed to the fear of the unknown and allowed ourselves to be held hostage by the unknown unseen foe.

  Instead of spreading wealth , opportunity and education, the civilized people are trying to erase the demon  with mythical swords, swiping through the air at ghosts.

  Could an enemy be beaten by the display of example, the wealth of nations expanding the quality of life for all its members. If there was the hope of a better life on this planet, would those soldiers still be willing to invest their lives for the virgins in an unknown world. Would they be willing to forge a path into an unknown world if they saw a better place here. We shall never know. We shall continue to fight this war, for longer than the thirty year war, with less of the pleasures of a quality of life known to the civilized world before the invasion of the ignorant on our shores.

  And this war shall be remembered for generations as the war of fear and ignorance, with the world forever being altered by the victors.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Toothpaste, please

   Oral health care has made strides since baking soda, tooth powder, one size fits all toothbrushes and cigarette pack cellophane as floss. We now see designer decorations in the morning when we look in the mirror and we can choose bristles from soft to hard. Toothpaste replaces the powder, it can fight cavities, soothe sensitivities, whiten, and protect with fluoride and comes in travel size to reduce bulk in suitcases. Mouth rinses too, fight cavities and kill germs, comes in a variety of flavors from medicinal to mint with colors including green, orange and purple. There is also mechanized as well as portable brushes in case we want to tour room to room instead of staring at our selves in the mirror. We can also choose to have a waterspout to spray between our teeth instead of floss giving us to see what brushing and rinsing misses. All at reasonable prices for  the masses.

   It is now time for the industry to leap well into the future to further provide the burgeoning population with the benefits of oral health care. Science fiction movies have long shown us the progress of food dispensed by tube as we travel the planets. The future is now. The industry must recognize one of the joys of consuming a meal is taste. We enjoy the variety of flavors that linger on our palate, flavor also being the choice to consume more regardless of whether or not we have the hunger. Today's choice of flavors for after eating brushing overwhelms, shocking the gums with a cool mint eraser of a meal well prepared to please the discerning palate. It numbs the senses soon after a culinary respite, destroying hours of preparation to an appreciation of moments.

   Since the industry is now in the future, is it not time for us to choose to have the lingering flavor of a meatloaf delight, or a shrimp scampi as we walk back to work from lunch. Or how about garlic toast while we watch the soaps. Let's have some peach cobbler as we wait for traffic on the freeway, or some steak and onions for touch football. A hearty chicken soup will suit us well on a cold rainy day. We don't need the calories, just the pleasing after taste to occupy the senses long enough for us think we have had a meal instead of a medicinal measure to delete the experience of ingesting nourishment.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The EU vs Google

   In the late 1990's Google was not advertised as a diet aid product. That was during the days of dial-up. People spent hours Googling, ignoring the pangs of hunger, feeding their intellectual appetite instead sampling the desserts that sweetened their minds with all the delicacies available, some even slept less opting instead to google the night away. In those days Google had few advertisements among the pages of data, nothing interrupting the segue through links of the world of everything in writing. It was a free flow of knowledge at a more rapid rate than turning pages in books. It was the freedom of information inspiring a nation to learn and grow.

   Fast flipping to the present, the EU is interested in making the case that Google is hindering competition.

   The EU has nothing to worry about, all the other search engines have far more advertisements with less links to information, and Google is also catching the advertising bug while offering less information. It is increasingly more difficult to cull knowledge from the scroll of ads that must be flipped through, almost like looking for the needle in the haystack.

 This trend,  following  television programmings need to bombard  watchers with products and services that interrupts the flow of the program they may forget they are watching. Instead  the screen fills with legal services suing every provider of everything that has been proven beyond a doubt  to shorten lifespans, or medications for every imaginable ailment that have  side effects that sound worse than the ailment they are trying to relieve. [Any child should have nightmares about visiting a medical professional or opening their mouth until they are miles away]

These practises have driven away television viewers and will also drive away Internet viewers moving them back to the library for information.

In Honor of Memorial Day 2016, A Veteran's Story

   He volunteered to fight during WWII, even though he was married and his wife was expecting any day. During basic training he was cited for his marksmanship.

   He was in the infantry in France, but spent his time driving a truck, delivering supplies to the front lines, or,  chauffeuring the General.

   One summer day it was very hot, the General wanted to visit the Coca Cola Bottling Plant. While speaking with the Manager, the Manager offered the General a warm Coca Cola, there was no ice.  He waited in the truck for the General.

   When the war was over, he returned home where no Coca Cola Product would ever cross the threshold into his abode.

   He died when he was eighty-six.