Saturday, July 30, 2011

Time Out! Doing Time! Time to Move On! Time to Laugh

I'm taking today to recuperate from the reunions that followed our All Class Reunion.  Since everyone is in town there were a ton of get-togethers with old friends.  Some involved drives out of the area (Willits!) (Sonoma!) and all involved food, of course.
Memo to self:  I want to get that caterer's name.  I thought they did an outstanding job!

So.  We are having another drippy grey summer and that makes me rather drippy and grey also.  All American news is about the Budget, or lack thereof.  The National Charge Card which reached astronomical proportions prior to the current administration, and is even higher now.  I imagine we'll just rack up another charge and carry on: it's become the American Dream to "buy" on a charge card. 

Isn't it hard to believe that Bill Clinton left a surplus, not a debt?  That rascal Ken Starr certainly took a nice piece of that surplus home with all his dogged attention to detail.  I wonder if he paid taxes on that - or if he earned "too much" to pay taxes.   I wonder if he will when whatever happens.  It's a sorry story, and our country has been used and abused by Red White and Blue Collar Crime.  Ya know, though,  Doctor Phil says, we are in charge of teaching people how to treat us. 

I'm waiting patiently for the loooooong slumber to come to an end.  Perhaps when America awakens they will remember (Republican) President Dwight David Eisehnower's warning when he left office in 1961:  BEWARE THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!!  Well, ever since the '60s we be right in the middle of The Military as an Industrial Machine. 

I remember working for my friend's father as a teenager in the 1960s.  He owned the biggest company in our little town, a print shop.  His son, whom I grew up with was in Viet Nam fighting  for...something.  I was never too clear on what The Domino Effect was all about.   It sounds plain demeaning to think we were at war over a board game.  Today I'd say  a Board of Directors & Investors Game, but I don't think I should get politically incorrect so early  in this blog.  Anyway, my boss got a HUGE gov'ment contract:  he printed up catalogues for the military, and I got a chance to work overtime and collect some cash.  I was a wartime pofiteer also, I suppose.

Oh yes - I was horrified to see the catalogues were of arms and ammunition.  My friend, my boss's son, was shot down three times.  He was a gunner on a helicoptor.
I cringed then to think his life was all about these weapons, and the fact that both his dad and I were profiting from the war that endangered him and his friends. In truth today I wish I had kept a copy of the catalog as a reminder of the workings of wars.

my boss's son survived the war, and like so many youngsters who sacrificed their time, relationships and bodies, he came back with a habit to support and ended up in jail.  His dad gave me his prison address, and I remember writing him with town news, my news, and sending him funny clippings and such. He never came home after he'd served his time, and I lost track of him.

Twenty-five years later he came back to Calistoga and we bumped into each other at the County Fair.  Here was my old childhood friend and we hugged, maybe cried a little as he proudly showed me his darling little toddler.  And then he laughed as he pulled out his wallet, "Here, you sent this to me when I was in the slammer and I have kept it with me ever since!"  I had no idea what he referred to and was apalled when he handed me a tattered Monopoly card, the "Get Out of Jail Free" card.

"I sent you that?" I gasped.

"Yes!  You did and I could not believe you sent that to me!" he said.

I was embarassed, could feel the hot flush on my cheeks.

And he told me how that card, at that moment shifted his perspective on life, he laughed for the first time in prison.  He laughed out loud until he cried; and he knew that if he could laugh like that in prison, he could certainly finish his time and and live to laugh again.

I learned a lot from him that day:  he taught me the real meaning of that Monopoly card.  Who knew?  We can get out of jail free.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Interesting Blog I just posted:

It does not look anything like what I produced in Documents, which was several attached paragraphs of winging remembrances..

Apologies for the abrupt stops and starts and plain goofiness.   

All Class Reunion 2011

My home town of Calistoga only had about 1,100 residents total when I was a child.  And that included those who lived in trailer homes and sometimes moved.  Because of the timing of our births this tiny town quickly ran out of parents: a whole load of us were the initial wave of Baby Boomers; and we grew up playing with the entire generation of siblings, not just the one in our class.  

It makes sense that we have periodic All Class Reunions from anyone who had ever graduated from Calistoga High School, or attended our schools.  Now it's anyone who was a childhood friend from The City.  That's what we called San Francisco in the '50s.

This year's reunion was special as invites also were extended to all those "City Kids" who used to spend summers in our town.  They came in droves that first Saturday after school got out, and we Calistoga kids were waiting in the gutters at the intersection of Highway 128 and
Main Street

station wagons arriving from San Francisco slammed on the brakes and dumped their children out, and went on.  We formed a gang and took off for the swimming pools, the park, or places unknown and showed up at somebody's house when it was time to eat.  We were always fed. 
In recent years, certain of the City Kids had been invited to gate crash but now they got invites, and some brought their parents with them.  Imagine a reunion ranging from near centurions through the most recent graduates of 2011. 

(Tsk.  I hope I didn't spell that like those half goat people of Greek myths..Or were gladiators called centurions? confusing.)
It was really the ten year reunion that made our class realize we really missed each other.  I like to think that our young grads will come in the future: first with boy/ girl friends, then with spouses, then little ones, and then with their dogs and/or new spouses.  Suddenly the little ones are big kids, and suddenly there are no kids or maybe grandkids; and perhaps like us they will bring their parents too.  I stop now.   

The 2011 All Class Reunion formally started at 2 pm Saturday with drinks and milling around, visiting, telling stories, telling lies, laughing, back slaps - all our crazy hominoid behaviors. They say just over 300 former students of Calistoga High School showed up and there was just barely enough time to chat with my personal A list and some of my B list.  I lied.  I don't  have a B list - there's not enough people to make one.  LOL and smiley-face.

A wonderful meal was dished up; we did some more milling around and not so much drinking then a few yawns, some sore feet and backs....So it broke up  around eleven thirty or midnight.

My friends and I took an evening stroll through our little home town, even though we'd done it the night before.  I just wish I could do it again tonight.  Tonight and every night!   A stroll every summer evening, remembering and laughing and sharing and wanting to shout out ”I am so lucky!"
Night time strolls of long ago, sometimes called promanades in other countries, as the night brings a soft cool breeze and heat exhaustion suddenly evaporates, and the sounds of crickets and frogs makes you say yes! I am a part of Nature, not simply subject to Nature! 

Calistoga's summer-night air is sweet with jasmine and roses and maybe plumaria here and there...unless you are walking on
Main Street
(they call it
Lincoln Avenue
on maps.) 
Main Street
 at that hour smells more like booze.  I remember when it smelled like booze and cigarettes.  Some things have changed for the better.

Our Mid-Century parents strolled neighborhood streets, stopping and visiting on porches, relishing the night coolness with a glass of lemonade or a beer.  And  we kids played Kick the Can, Tag,  and Hide 'n' Seek right in the middle of streets; as well as in the backyards of many tolerant neighbors.  Not a lot of homes had a fence around their property, so exhausted  kids crashed on  any old body's lawn to rest up, telling jokes and sharing dreams, or just looking at the sky. No one ran us off their lawns because we were bending their precious blades of grass, and our sweaty little bodies itched with rashes from prickly grass.  If we did get rowdy the neighbors might help us leave their property with a full-blast hose. Or if we were on some old people's land they would start hollering at us.  "YouDarnKidsGoOnHomeFerGodsSake!"  

It is said this year that one of the bars had an Elvis Impersonator.  I'm not too sure if this means Calistoga is still stuck in time; if we've "gone Vegas" or if Vegas is stuck in time.

Anyway our personal midnight blue velvet sky still rested above our valley, settling ever so gently on the mountain peaks, and those stars still dangled just out of my reach.  Crickets and bullfrogs chirped and burped in the distance, and the sound of far off conversations and soft laughter floated by.  These are the parts that can never change: mountains, sky, stars, creatures, laughter. Calistoga remains.
This is Life being lived and loved, at it's sweetest and fullest: with people, with memories, with comfort and kindness and love. 

You know, someone once said you can never go home. 
Poor him:  maybe he should come to one of our All Class Reunions?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Welcome to my New Blog!

A number of years ago I started a blog in order to increase "hits" on the computer for my services as a Notary Public.  I have since retired from that profession and decided to pursue a career in writing.  Let's see if I can:  I'm going to use this blog to practise. 

I'm almost 65 now and have made a whole lot of observations, mostly valid I think, but certainly subject to further consideration.   If anyone cares to comment on my angle, please let me know. 

I hope to inspire people by re-viewing, re-seeing, re-telling some of our mutual American History as seen through my own eyes, my own eye-glasses.  I hope to put some interesting questions and comments out there and receive some "new angles" from prospective readers. 

Those of us called Baby Boomers have left a huge Baby Foot Print on this old earth; a subject I like to ponder upon frequently. 

I think I will kick off with the piece I like most to pontificate upon, which has to do with that big fat bullseye on the bottom of our little Baby-Boomer diapers. 
Madison Avenue drooled even more than we as we cut our teeth on Good Ole American Capitalism! Agghaah, a generation of consummate consumers!