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Opinions

Traveling whirlwind

Sabra and I have been on a whirlwind driving tour visiting family this holiday season.
I can’t help but feel a little guilty driving long distances.
The burning of fossil fuels is causing all sorts of problems from political instability; to global warming; to making Texans, who otherwise might not be able to handle a job at McDonald’s, insanely rich. I’m all for taxing gasoline heavily and using the proceeds to build sustainable renewable energy for our country and world. In the meantime, we like to travel like everyone else, especially when gas is selling for $2 a gallon.

Christmas Eve magic

Food for Thought

My parents were geniuses at making childhood magic for my sisters and me. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I wanted to have several children so I could have the fun of creating the wonderland for them, watching them learn and grow and thrive in a secure and rich environment similar to what I had known. The world changed a lot in the quarter century between my childhood and theirs, however. Iowa City was a very different place in 1959 than Knoxville had been in 1936 when my earliest memories begin.

Merry Christmas

Walkin'

One of my earliest Christmas time memories is melting crayons with my cousin Suzzie on an exposed heating duct outside our apartment at the Glenview Naval Air Base. Originally designed to be living quarters for pilots, the buildings were turned into low-income housing through the Chicago Housing Authority.

Spying on Santa

Food for Thought

When I was still young enough to have that unshakable faith in the Christmas myth, we lived in a house that had a coal furnace in the basement and the heat it produced depended on gravity to get it where it was wanted. Needless to say, without an automatic fan or duct work to the upstairs bedrooms, gravity didn’t always produce the desired effect. The ground floor rooms had big square metal grates near the walls closest to the furnace below. These were fed the warm air through large ducts that came as straight as possible from the furnace itself.

String Theory part II

Walkin'

In the last couple columns, I’ve explained how our household always had a large supply of string: yellow from Marshall Field’s and white from the News Agency.

It’s snow fun anymore

The earliest winters I remember were spent in the neighborhood where we lived until I was in third or fourth grade. Our streets weren’t plowed after a snowfall, instead, most people had chains on their tires to aid traction on the streets which soon became slick with packed snow. Many of the older boys indulged themselves with a free ride, belly-flopping with their sleds onto the road behind a passing car and grabbing the rear bumper to be towed at a fast clip for blocks at a time.

String Theory

Walkin'

Besides the yellow string Dad brought home from Marshall Fields there were also skeins of generic white string fetched from the News Agency.
It was just one of his several part-time jobs.

Frost on the windows

There’s one thing about winters from the past that I realize I’ve missed for a good many years. That’s those ferny, ostrich-feather plumes of frost on the windows. It seems that, when I was a child, the kitchen windows in our house were etched with frost nearly all winter. Frost on the inside of the windows where we could scratch it off with our fingernails to peer out, watching for Dad to get home for supper.

Yellow string, green stamps

One of the benefits of Dad working at Marshall Field’s, the upscale department store based in Chicago, was the string.
It was used by the package delivery drivers, my father’s job for 50 years, to secure items returned by customers. Field’s had a very liberal, no-questions-asked return policy, and would even send a deliveryman out to pick up the package, tie it with string if needed, and return it to the store.

Don’t hang up!

Food for Thought

Go back to about a month ago. It’s just a few minutes past 5 p.m., and I’ve settled into my recliner with a drink to watch the evening news while my dinner simmers on the stove. The phone shrills, predictably, as it has every evening at about this time for the past month. I know it’s not a personal call. How do I know it’s not a personal call?

Blame it on the dogs

Walkin'

I’ve been putting off replacing the plastic mat underneath my chair in the upstairs bedroom that doubles as my office. A man’s home may be his castle but in my case the only estate I am sovereign over is the office and the garage.

The shopping list

Food for Thought

While cleaning out a drawer the other day, I pulled out an old purse I’d saved for some reason. It was beyond any practical use, but before I tossed it into the trash, I checked to make sure there wasn’t something valuable in there– some treasured photos, a book of postage stamps, a few dollars tucked into a forgotten pocket in case of emergency. No such luck, but I did find a rather lengthy shopping list that intrigued me because of the memories it brought to mind.