Full circle

Emily gave me a Mizzou T-shirt for Christmas. I wear it with pride because she is a student there, of course, but also for another reason. In 1977-78, I was a student there. Well, more accurately put, I attended a few classes there.

This was a very sad chapter in my life. Even now it’s hard for me to imagine how I could have found myself in such a tragic, empty place. Oh, wait; that’s right I was 18! And, with a maturity level of probably 14. I was profoundly shy and withdrawn and this was, in the end, what did me in. I simply wouldn’t communicate, to anyone, what I really wanted. I needed permission from others to act, so I would pathologically construct circumstances to somehow gain this permission. After a year of this, well, at least I simply left. And, not finishing college would be a decision that would haunt me for…well, until my daughter gave me a Mizzou T-shirt. Oversimplification? Yes, of course, but I smile big when I put it on.

(Note to young people: this kind of brilliant introspection only comes with time. Listen to your parents and you’ll avoid much trouble.)

Wife of Godfather

Wife of Godfather

I really have no idea what year this is. It struck me while writing these last two posts that dads “are” and moms “do.” I really have no idea who or what she was, I only know what she did.

When I see this picture I see the woman who taught me how to wear those yellow gloves. I was proud to carefully not let the inside of them get wet. And, there a few steps in front of her, was a small, built-in wall cupboard that had her tools in it. Yes, her tools; a hammer, a screwdriver and a pair of pliers. She has one very much like it in her apartment now.

Also, notice that belt she has on. She was mod. Her favorite “group” was Creedence Clearwater Revival. If you get in her car now the radio will be tuned to the oldies station. Oh, how I wish I knew the woman in this photo.

The Godfather

The Godfather …of the Monopoly board that is.

I ran across this picture while assembling an album for my mother. I’m not sure she would appreciate it as much as I, but hey, it is my blog. And, she is in the picture after all there in the right foreground.

When I look at this picture I see the dad of my fantasies. Cigarette in his left hand, drinking a 7 & 7 and waiting to pounce on the blockbuster deal that would leave him with St. James Place, Tennesse Avenue and New York Avenue; and the subsequent win.

This was a typical scene around our house on Friday nights. The gang of friends and family from church would come over (or we to their house) and usually the grown-ups would play cards and the kids would just hang out with each other. This picture is from a bit later, I’m guessing 1975 or so and I may not have even been there.

The Monopoly Board was a rite of passage for the males in our family. Girls were, how shall I say, discouraged from playing. Personally, I hated the game and I never won. Many times I played just to be a part of the grown-up guys. Drinking and cursing were not acceptable in polite company, but at the board, well to quote my uncle Gene, “God-damit Hutz, break out the good stuff!”

December Blogging

As I’ve said many times, my life is repetitive. As I sit here thinking about writing a “slice of life,” well, I already did that. Last year, or the year before. I’m working on the exact same things as I was at this time last year. Christmas songs, of course. What key to play them in? Too high, I can’t lead the group, too low, folks can’t sing along. Make a decision and move on.

Early December makes me remember Pearl Harbor, of course and also John Lennon’s death. I’ve written a bit on both previously so I won’t again tonight.

Reading my post about John from two years ago though, I was reminded that I wanted to write more on the nature of sin.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism was (and is) belittled by some theologians for his concept of “Christian Perfection.” It basically states that there’s nothing physically stopping you from obeying God and not sinning. The reason theologians would argue against this is because it goes against the idea of “Original Sin.” That is, that we’re born with sin, inheriting it from Adam and it is a part of our make-up. I believe that Original Sin speaks not to something that is inherited like a genetic disease, but more to the idea that Free Will is a part of our make-up and that, in turn, provides the ever-ripe opportunities for doing wrong. Wesley further argued that, logically, (methodically?) if Christ “finished” the work of atonement, which can hardly be argued, then what is in your way? What stands between you and a sinless life? God himself has provided the work for at-one-ment, so what gives?

Well, something gives, right? This world is a wreck. And, I don’t mean this “modern world.” I mean this whole world is and has been a swirling mess of sin, lust, greed etc. Wesley’s point and the hope of most of us is that it doesn’t have to be like this. Imagine the best person you’ve ever known. A real person, I mean. You know they’re not perfect, but they’re better than most. They’re honest, loving, giving etc. All the things that we all know make up a good person. Now imagine that everyone in the world was like that. Is this not meta-physically possible? Wesley says it is.

The four little engines that could

I’d like you to meet the USS Allen. Named after Commander William H. Allen, a hero in the War of 1812. The concept of a ship called a “destroyer” was hardly 20 years old when this one was built in 1916. She escorted the first wave of the Expeditionary Force to France, then was based in Queenstown, Ireland (where this picture was taken.) After the end of the War to End all Wars, she then escorted the Washington and President Wilson to France.

After an uneventful couple of decades she narrowly escaped being transferred to Great Britain in 1940. In December of 1940 she proceeded to Pearl Harbor and was there on the morning of December 7, 1941. Commander D. B. Miller says in his report:

Two planes were definitely shot down by this ship’s fire – one by Gun No. 6 and the second by starboard waist 50-caliber. The latter plane exploded in mid-air and was seen by bridge personnel to fall between USS Detroit and Ford Island. The former fell in hills about one mile northwest of AIEA mill stack. Our fire persisted for approximately 45 minutes, expending 57 rounds of 3-inch and 600 rounds of 50-caliber. It is possible a third plane was shot down by Gun No. 6, although fire from other ships were also concentrated on it.

She stayed at Pearl on anti-submarine duty and on the 27th of Dec. rescued 12 men from a merchant ship that had been hit by an enemy sub.

Then in early June of ’42 they received orders to steam toward Midway. As they set out, they had no idea that the most epic sea battle in history had just taken place. But, when they arrived, they would pickup survivors of the USS Yorktown, the flagship of the Operational Commander Admiral Fletcher. (As it so happens, Fletcher’s second assignment was to the USS Allen in 1918.)

She served most of the remainder of the war either at Pearl or running back and forth from Pearl to San Francisco. She was the oldest Destroyer in service and the only “4-stacker” or “1000-ton” left afloat. Finally arriving at her final resting place in Philadelphia on September 13, 1945; she was sold to Boston Metals Co. for scrap. In November, the name was struck from the Navy list and no ship has been given that name since.

Before Pearl Harbor was ever attacked young Martin W. decided that he should join the service now, instead of waiting for what he felt sure was the inevitable. That way, he’d be released before the war ended, thereby spending less time in active service during war-time. And, he figured that the navy has to better than the Army because at the end of the day he’d have a bed to sleep in. So, he joined the Navy and found himself in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. A mess-cook on the oldest Destroyer in the Navy; what a life! Those Japs really know how to make a mess out of a mess-cook’s life.

He had a young bride back in St. Louis. When they were kids, Irene and a couple of girlfriends had tried to get into the nearby Presbyterian church, but failed. One of them said, “hey, there’s a Methodist Church down the street and I know how to get in that one.” She’d been a Methodist ever since. The church was then, and still is, central to her life. Possibly more so since Martin passed away in 1995. She still attends each and every Sunday and has returned to attending Sunday School.

When she pulled this humble Sunday School teacher aside to say, “I’ve been attending church a long time and today…you really made me think about things…” well, it was simply the highpoint of all of my days of teaching.

New Blog

What d’ya think? I’ve working hard to get this up and running. The blog is now hosted on my web server and I have much more control over all the technical stuff. If you’d like to continue to read this blog you should update any shortcuts or links to:

http://southcityfirst.com/weblog

One of the cool things about the new format is the categories. Each entry is individually categorized and then you can view the groups together. I’m not sure anyone else will appreciate this feature, but I sure had fun going through all the posts and organizing them. Still working on all the uncategorized entries.