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Sunday I delivered Jose to Wright State’s campus for marching band camp. He has a neat roommate, a sophomore who just moved her from Vandalia Butler High School. I spent a few minutes chatting with the chaperones – all friends of mine who wish I was there with them.

Monday through Wednesday was busy with teaching, and in the evenings I was tired, and basically did very little. I tried working outside but the mosquittos and other bugs were breaking through the barrier of deep woods spray, a bug zapper, and several citrinella candles… so I retreated indoors.

Wednesday night I talked with Jeff Carter on the telephone for a good hour… tons of catching up for the boys.

I literally did not leave the house all week. Once I returned from Wright State Sunday, I stayed home the rest of the week until I left to pick up Jose tonight.

This week we lost two dear people from my home town… Roger Meisner, a retired police officer who worked with both my grandfather and mother, passed away with cancer. Roger will have a full police ceremony this Saturday morning. Carol Courtney, a secretary at Elwood Community High School also passed away. Carol was a delightful lady, and the “school mom” to thousands of students and for several generations. In fact, I believe she was at the high school when Mother was a student.

Tomorrow will be writing for me, and plenty of rest for Jose who is already pooped. We may go to ACTION but since there is no training, and mine is completed, we may take in a movie.

Saturday and Sunday are not scheduled, and I am looking forward to this break. We are hoping to travel to Destin & Stacia’s the following weekend.

Everyone have a great weekend!

Much love to all…

This evening I journeyed out to Wright State University and met up with the Chabut and Karmele families. We watched the band’s 2008 pre-game show and the first two of four movements of their 2008 competition show which is called CLOUDBURST: The Skies Will Open. The first movement is based on Eric Whitacres’ composition of the same title.

Mike Berning… yes, he is teaches my son….

After the band was dismissed I slowly made my way over to the picnic shelter to wait on the percussion to load the trailer. I was nabbed by about four different groups of parents, and then the director, Mike Berning, stood and talked for a good twenty minutes. The camp was great and he is excited over the show… well, that’s what he reported over the microphone to all the parents. In the shelter, we were discussing more fun things – not work related.

The percussion pit practicing; Jose is in the orange shirt.

While I was waiting on Jose to retrieve his suitcase and laundry basket from his room, I got to chat with the chaperones – all neat people. They all told me how funny, but very polite and sweet my son is… and how happy they were he was no longer with the former girlfriend. They also shared that they were keeping an eye on him to make certain she was not causing any waves.

My kids tooting away…

We went for our traditional Mexican food before heading home and in Pepitos was one of our drum-majors and a former band student whose older brother was one of my favorite students. I was entertained with even more stories from the week.

Jose’s best friend, Michael, who is a regular fixture at the Haasienda.

So, I feel the season is officially off and running, despite two previous weeks of rehearsal prior to camp. In about two weeks, we have our first football game, then Kettering’s huge festival, Holiday At Home over Labor Day, and then all the competitions.

And as we walked through the door, Flyer nearly dashed into Jose’s arms. Even Logan joined in on the fesitive moment and meowed her greetings, followed by a body rub up against Jose’s legs.

For some reason, Mary Todd Lincoln has been resurfacing this past month in a variety of connections. I had begun writing a musical on Miss Todd in 1986, and put it away in the mid-1990’s. And here she is again, beckoning me to finish her story.

This is an op-ed piece from the NY TIMES, written by one of my favorite authors, Samuel A. Schreiner of Darien, Connecticut. Mr. Schreiner wrote a fantastic book, THE TRIALS OF MRS. LINCOLN. I adore this author for being such a great champion of this oft over-looked, vilanized first lady.

Truly, Madly, Deeply


PRESIDENTS’ DAY is generally reserved for honoring our presidents. But how about the wives of our presidents? And how about presidential wives who have been unfairly maligned over the years? In this regard, there is no better candidate for rehabilitation this holiday than Mary Todd Lincoln.

For years, authors and scholars have claimed that Mary Lincoln was insane. This is simply not true, and a file of documents found in 1975 in a closet in the Manchester, Vt., home of Mary Lincoln’s son Robert proves it. In 1875, Mary Todd Lincoln was declared insane by a jury, and remanded to an asylum. The charge was brought by Robert, and he must have nursed a guilty conscience about it to keep a file, which reveals that the trial was a sham.

The proceeding was nevertheless an international sensation. Although another, little-noted trial a year later set that verdict aside and declared Mary Lincoln sane, the damage had already been done. A mad Mary Lincoln conveniently validated the tales circulated by her enemies and critics, mostly men, from the time she arrived on the national stage as the vivacious consort of a sorely tried president and on through her years as the neglected widow of a martyr.

Of course, the first lady was an emotional volcano, prone to fiery eruption at sometimes inappropriate moments. An attractive woman with expensive tastes, she could be easy on the eye but hard on the budget. With a well-stocked mind and the nerve to speak it, she persuaded her husband to follow her advice in matters like coveted appointments, and this infuriated the men around the president.

Out of fear of or respect for Abraham Lincoln’s power, comment on his wife was muted until the assassin’s bullet removed him from office and Mary Lincoln became fair game for the gossip mongers, who claimed that Lincoln’s bouts of depression were caused by a lost love and a miserable life with a crazy woman.

Creator of the miserable marriage myth was Lincoln’s longtime law partner in Springfield, Ill., William Herndon. In a lecture he gave shortly after the president’s death, Herndon said that Lincoln had never loved his wife because his heart belonged to Ann Rutledge, a neighbor who died at the age of 22 and whom some historians believe was courted by Lincoln. To claim, however, that her death would have rendered a man of Lincoln’s will and intelligence unable to have a loving relationship with another person is absurd. The untimely loss of loved ones was such a common fact of life in the 1800’s that people simply had to learn how to cope with it to carry on.

In any event, Herndon is not a believable witness to what went on between the Lincolns. Because he was too fond of the bottle and, in Mary Lincoln’s view, too uncouth, he wasn’t welcome in the Lincoln household. As a result, he developed an abiding hatred and jealousy of Lincoln’s wife.

Herndon was also probably put off by what he undoubtedly regarded as the unmanly ways by which Lincoln helped his wife. Lincoln was known to have greeted callers still wearing an apron, and he was often seen shepherding a trio of rambunctious young sons through the streets to his office to give his wife respite. Herndon found Lincoln’s office visits with children in tow especially annoying. Lincoln let them get into everything, as he evidently did at home, and even Herndon would agree that the Lincoln marriage was compatible in one respect: neither husband nor wife believed in disciplining their children.

People who were intimate with the Lincolns did not buy the Rutledge story or the rest of Herndon’s charges. Emily Todd Helm, Mary Lincoln’s half-sister, who lived for months in the couple’s Springfield home while she was a teenager, considered them love birds. She reported that Mary Lincoln would run out to the street to greet her husband as he returned home, and they would enter the house hand-in-hand. Their differences in temperament — she, for instance, was punctual and he careless of time — could lead to clashes, but Helm was impressed by the way they were resolved. Once when Mary Lincoln let loose her anger at her husband’s arriving late for supper, he simply scooped her up in his arms and kissed her.

A frequent guest in the Lincolns’ Springfield house was the Rev. James Smith, Mary Lincoln’s Presbyterian pastor. Although Lincoln was not a churchgoer, he and the minister would spend hours by the fireside discussing religion and everything else under the sun.

When Lincoln went to Washington, Smith was appointed to a consulate in Scotland where he read in a newspaper an account of Herndon’s Rutledge lecture. Incensed, he wrote an open letter to Herndon that was published in The Dundee Advertiser. Reprinted in this newspaper and The Chicago Tribune, the letter made the point that a law office was not a good vantage point from which to judge a man’s home life. Declaring himself fortunate enough to have known the Lincolns well, Smith wrote that the president was a “faithful, loving and affectionate husband” who “was utterly incapable of withholding” love from his wife.

Mary Lincoln’s enemies may have discounted Smith’s testimony on the grounds that he was paying off a debt or piously upholding the sanctity of marriage. They would have a harder time shrugging off an address by Charles Sumner, the worldly and sophisticated senator from Massachusetts, during a debate in Congress about Mary’s pension. After establishing himself as well acquainted with the couple’s home life in the White House, Sumner said, “Surely, the honorable members of the Senate must be weary of casting mud on the garments of the wife of Lincoln.” The president “had all her love,” he continued, and Lincoln loved her “as only his mighty heart could.”

Unquestionably high-strung, Mary Lincoln was under a great deal of stress while she was living in the White House, especially when her son Willie died in 1862. After so many other stresses — the death of another son, Eddie, 12 years earlier; attacks on her extravagance; doubts of her loyalty because she had relatives fighting for the Confederacy — Willie’s death was almost more than she could take. According to people who question her sanity, she wailed so hard and so long that Lincoln led her over to a window, pointed out an insane asylum in the distance and threatened to take her there if she didn’t stop.

The story is probably true and totally in character for Lincoln, who often tried to tease or startle his wife out of her funks. That it did no damage to the marriage was attested by a couple who took a carriage ride with the Lincolns on April 14, 1865, just hours before their fatal visit to Ford’s Theater. The war over, the president and the first lady were talking as happily as newlyweds of plans like trips together to Paris for her and to California for him.

Lincoln’s patience with his wife was apparently reciprocated by her patience with him when he slipped away from her into one of his periods of melancholy or preoccupation with affairs of state. Lincoln suffered recurring episodes of what would now be called depression from early childhood onward. In light of what we know today, an effort to link them to emotional disappointments rather than to a chemical imbalance seems quaint rather than scientific.

Mary Lincoln may have been difficult to live with, but she was not insane and there’s no question that the president loved her dearly. “My wife was as handsome as when she was a girl,” Lincoln once told a reporter. “And I, poor nobody then, fell in love with her, and what is more, have never fallen out.”

This Presidents’ Day, let’s finally acknowledge that truth.

Mouse Trap

Late one Saturday night I heard a pair of footsteps bounding up the basement stairs. I looked up at the clock and figured a commercial had propelled them from the depths of TV Land.

“Dad,” my sons cried. “There’s a mouse downstairs… it crawled down the wall.”

My stomach sprang upward, lodging in my throat. One of my worst fears as an adult had been realized – a mouse had invaded my home. All throughout my childhood I heard others speak of these unwelcome visitors, but had never before experienced one personally. My mother had caught a mouse the previous year and still during our weekend visits my eyes con-stantly scan the baseboards.

Within forty-five minutes I had returned from Wal-Mart with an arsenal that rivaled Wyle E. Coyotes’ ACME collection. The boys busily set around little cardboard box traps and plugged in the pest repellent gadgets. They had pinned him behind my row of file cabinets and were doing everything in their teenage power to capture the little critter. Our dog, Flyer, was busy putting her Labrador pedigree to use and sniffing him out. The fury little creature did escape and ran to the other side of the room. Of course, Logan, our cat, and I, perched halfway up the stairs, observed him running as the trio shifted, sniffed and banged on file cabinets. Logan, a true hunter, seemed resigned to allow the others to do the footwork.

I pointed out the creature’s destination and the trio moved with lightening speed. My thirteen year old stopped and asked, “Father, why aren’t you down here chasing the mouse?”

How could I explain the truth to this young boy who looked up to me for strength, courage and guidance? Guidance! That was exactly what he needed!

“Well, any competent military man will tell you that you need a reconnaissance man to watch the movements of the enemy in order to guide the others.”

He bought it! The chase continued.

Sunday. All quiet on the basement front. No sign of the creature except for the cardboard traps through which he had chewed to free himself. Once more, with the conviction of Elmer Fudd, I hurried to Wal-Mart to purchase the old fashion mousetraps. My eldest son set three around the basement enticing the little fellow with peanut butter.

Sunday night. Traps still empty.

Monday morning. I moved aside the blockade and opened the basement door to let the cat hurry down to her litter box. She did not return within a few minutes. I woke my eldest soldier up earlier than his 6:30am wake-up call and sent him downstairs. I followed at a safe dis-tance. There sat Logan guarding the trap with the little critter caught by the leg and tail, and very much alive. Logan smacked it into stillness and looked up at us for approval and applause. My son picked up the trap and smiled at the little fellow as he took him outside.

Operation Critter was accomplished. I now rank myself with the likes of generals Grant, Marshall, and Eisenhower as an expert military strategist.

Ready, Set, Hike

Inside the veterinary office, Flyer, my new puppy, quickly sensed we were on a different mission and began a tug-o-war session. I greeted the receptionist with our names.

“You said her name is ‘Flyer?’ Did you go to the University of Dayton?” the receptionist inquired.

“I got her as I was beginning to write my musical on the Wright Brothers. She didn’t look like Orville and had too much hair to be called Wilbur.” I joked, lamely.

The receptionist chuckled. “Oh, aren’t you the guy who brought your cat in for…”

“Yes.” I politely interrupted. “I am that guy.”

In the examining room the new vet on the staff introduced himself. “Say, are you the guy who brought his cat in…?” I nodded. “What a great story! How embarrassing.” With that he turned his attention to Flyer.

Little did he know that I was so accustomed to these episodes in my life that I seldom, if ever, got embarrassed, especially after that one summer morning when my six- month old cat woke me with an incredible screech. I hurdled myself over sheets and bounded into the hall to find her half-crawling down the hallway, dragging her backside and crying out in agony. I threw on my clothes and a ball cap, and carefully wrapped her up in a bath towel. The entire time in the car, I held her snuggly in the towel, trying to comfort her from what ever had fallen and crushed her backside.

Fortunately the veterinary office was open to accept pets scheduled for surgery. I ran inside, carefully arranging Logan on the front counter.

“Something fell and crushed her back legs.”

The two sympathetic attendants began examining Logan as I filled out an appointment card. Within seconds Logan began her shrill, excruciating cry and the awkward crawl.

“I’m sorry, but there is not much we can do for her at the moment.”
The tears started down my cheek. In two months I had become so attached to this darling little tabby who, despite warnings from friends that a cat would never walk on a leash, go for bike rides in my back pack, ride in the car or learn the standard tricks of a dog. Logan could do it all, and more. I got her eight years before I adopted my first son and she was my first real living thing for which I was responsible. And now I had failed to protect her… Logan was dying. I wiped away my tears and asked the vet’s assistant what our next step should be. Put her down?

“Oh, no!” Both ladies burst into awkward laughter. How rude and insensitive! Realizing I did not grasp the moment, she placed her hand on my arm. “Logan’s in heat.”

I managed a smile, gathered up my furry daughter and walked out of the office with all the dignity I could muster.

“Well, Flyer is a healthy, sweet little thing,” said the vet as he played with Flyer, “and what a personality. Do you have any questions before I give her the first set of puppy shots?”

“Hmmm… well, the only thing that really concerns me is that when she urinates she doesn’t hike her leg.”

I saw the doctor’s lower teeth slowly rise to grab hold of his upper lip as his body began shaking. Without looking at me he playfully told Flyer, “Your daddy needs to learn about girls.”

Motivational Quotes

Experience aboard a tall ship inspires a vision that transcends into motivation that has the power to overcome ALL barriers.

People who have a vision control their destiny and lifestyle. For people without a vision, their destiny and lifestyle is controlled by others.

Today’s teenagers are being academically stuffed while being motivationally starved.

There are three priorities, CHEAP, QUICK and GOOD. You can have any two.
A good job quick — won’t be cheap.
A quick job cheap — won’t be good.
A good job cheap — won’t be quick.
Note: A single priority increases efficiency. At the other end, if all three elements have equal priority the results are reversed, low quality, high cost, and difficult to finish. This is the result of rotating priorities, which means, no one knows what the goal is. Priority of the moment depends on current mood.

What is Your Leadership Style?
High Efficiency
Do it.
Do it then tell me what you did.
Tell me what you are going to do and do it.
Tell me what you want to do and wait for a decision.
Don’t do anything without my approval.
Don’t do anything until I tell you.
Low Efficiency

“Leadership is constantly changing, and survivors learn to change with it.”

“Yesterday, natural resources defined power. Today, knowledge is power. Yesterday, leaders commanded and controlled. Today, leaders empower and coach. Yesterday, leaders were warriors. Today, they are facilitators. Yesterday, managers directed. Today, managers delegate. Yesterday, supervisors flourished. Today, supervisors vanish.” — Dr. Denis Waitley, The Toastmaster, December 2000.

Seven Rules of Motivation
#1 Set a major goal, but follow a path. The path has mini goals that go in many directions. When you learn to succeed at mini goals, you will be motivated to challenge grand goals.
#2 Finish what you start. A half finished project is of no use to anyone. Quitting is a habit. Develop the habit of finishing self-motivated projects.
#3 Socialize with others of similar interest. Mutual support is motivating. We will develop the attitudes of our five best friends. If they are losers, we will be a looser. If they are winners, we will be a winner. To be a cowboy we must associate with cowboys.
#4 Learn how to learn. Dependency on others for knowledge is a slow, time consuming processes. Man has the ability to learn without instructors. In fact, when we learn the art of self-education we will find, if not create, opportunity to find success beyond our wildest dreams.
#5 Harmonize natural talent with interest that motivates. Natural talent creates motivation, motivation creates persistence and persistence gets the job done.
#6 Increase knowledge of subjects that inspires. The more we know about a subject, the more we want to learn about it. A self-propelled upward spiral develops.
#7 Take risk. Failure and bouncing back are elements of motivation. Failure is a learning tool. No one has ever succeeded at anything worthwhile without a string of failures.

You Sexy Thang…

When Matthew first arrived in 2002 as a little scrawny 12 yo boy, I helped him unpack his clothes from foster care, most of which were faded or dingy, and put them away. Between my mother, Aunt Dena and myself, we had the boy “stylin” within a few weeks. A year or so later, Matthew experienced a tremendous growth burst and grew five inches… and he continued to grow.

Late into 2003, after nearly 18 months of living with me, I noticed he had a peculiar stride when he walked. I checked his shoes and they were fine. I asked if he had any injuries… none. Hmmm…. Dad was baffled. We put on our coats and I took him out front and had him walk up and down the side walk so I could observe him. He continued to walk the same way. I asked him to stand up straight so I could check to see if he had one leg shorter than the other. They matched. Finally, it ocurred to me to ask him why he was walking funny.

“My underwear is tight.”

“Well, throw those away and put on another pair.”

“All my underwear is tight.”

“Why is all your underwear tight?”

“Because they are the same ones I brought from Texas.”

The underwear he had was size 12 in boys. The way boys’ clothing is sized is still a profound mystery to me, and thank God for cell phones in the middle of Wal-Mart so I could call my sister when shopping! Matt, of course, was no longer a size 12 but a size 28! Ugh! I have resigned my self to the fact that I have probably destroyed any chance of my eldest son fathering children.

When Jose arrived I immediately asked him what size underwear he wore. Clueless. At least he knew he was wearing underwear. I checked and he was a 12. He had five pair and indicated that his foster mother kept a bunch because she felt as though she had purchased enough with her own money (no comment from me at this time!).

Today, I began a new exercise program of “walk-run-walk-run.” I decided it would be best to begin with just the power walk as our block is the size of approximately 6 large city blocks together since it contains the entire high school campus (with soccer stadium, baseball field, about 8-10 practice fields, the new basketball and fitness arena, tennis courts… you name it!) the library, several major businesses and probably 30 homes bordering the block. It is a wonderful neighborhood!

I started out on Shroyer and moved pas the high school and turned on to Lincoln Park Boulevard, past Brody’s house. His new bride was not working at home so I continued to clip along without taking a break to chat with her. Finally, down the hill to Far Hills Avenue, also known as Main Street in various parts of town, and State Route 48. As I rounded the corner I noticed my shins were beginning to get that sharp ache… no problem – 15 minnutes and half way home. Then, in front of the library I became even more uncomfortable. My white briefs had ridden up and pulled along with them my red, fake silk running shorts. I was in just as much agony from the undies in a wad as I was from the aching shins. Naturally, it was impossible to make any adjustments as I was walking on the busiest road in all Dayton!

My stride slowed and my walk must have appeared humorous, if not pathetic. Of course, the music that began on the CD was… “You Sexy Thang”! Oh yeah, Baby! I know I was the essence of sexiness on Far Hills Avenue, looking as though I was imitating Tim Conway in an old Carol Burnette Show skit!

“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” ~ Foster C. McClellan

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. When we walk to the edge of all the light we have, and take the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on… or we will be taught to fly.” ~ Frank Outlaw

“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.” ~ Helen Keller

“Are you disappointed, discouraged and discontented with your present level of success? Are you secretly dissatisfied with your present status? Do you want to become a better and more beautiful person than you are today? Would you like to be able to really learn how to be proud of yourself and still not lose genuine humility? Then start dreaming! Its possible! You can become the person you have always wanted to be!” ~ Robert H. Schuller

“Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them—a desire, a dream, a vision.” ~ Muhammad Ali

“Become a Possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities—always see them, for they’re always there.”
~ Norman Vincent Peale



There is an undercurrent of energy thrumming through the Universe. Like the wind or a whisper, we can sometimes hear it and often feel it. Most of the time, we sense this energy unconsciously without any tangible proof it is really there. Thoughts, emotions, and the life force in all living things are forms of this kind of energy. So are creativity, growth, and change. The impressions, images, and vague premonitions we get about people and situations are other examples of formless energy. When you enter a space and feel an “intangible tension” in the air that gives you a sense of foreboding in your gut, what you are likely experiencing is energy.
Energy cannot be destroyed, but it can be transformed or transferred from one person, thing, or source to another. Though energy is formless, it does take form and shape in the way it flows and resides within all things: a grain of sand, a bird, a stone, and an ocean wave. Living things radiate complex vibrations while nonliving things’ vibrations are simpler. Energy is a magnifier that can attract like energies while repelling disparate ones. Many of our reactions to people and circumstances are based on unconscious reactions to their energies. We may even intuitively tune into the energy of a situation we are facing when making a decision about how to proceed. With careful practice and meditation, we can learn to sense the energy within other living things and ourselves. We can also become more attuned to how we are impacted by different kinds of energy. For instance, being around too many energies can leave one person feeling edgy or excited, while another person will feel tired and drained.
While some people feel that energy can be controlled, others see it is as the unknowable force that moves through all things. The combined energy in all things plays a hand in birth, death, growth, movement, and stillness. Practitioners of Aikido believe that all living beings share a common energy source that is our life force. Whatever your beliefs, it is worthwhile to explore the roles energy plays in your life so you can understand it more fully.


I am watching a delightful A&E documentary on Shirley Temple. What a fascinating lady! And the wonderful child star of the 1930’s turned 80 this year!

Shirley Jane Temple (born April 23, 1928) is an Academy Award-winning actress and tap dancer, most famous for being an iconic American child actress of the 1930s, who enjoyed a notable career as a diplomat as an adult. After rising to fame at the age of six with her breakthrough performance in Bright Eyes in 1934, she starred in a series of highly successful films which won her widespread public adulation and saw her become the top grossing star at the American box-office during the height of the Great Depression. She went on to star in films as a young adult in the 1940s. In later life, she became a United States ambassador and diplomat.


Temple was born to George Francis Temple (1888–1980), a businessman and banker, and Gertrude Amelia Krieger (1893–1977) in Santa Monica, California. She has two brothers, Jack (b. 1915) and George, Jr. (b. 1919). Her mother loved dancing and this directed Temple towards performing. Gertrude was a constant presence on the lot during Temple’s childhood acting years, helping her learn her lines, and controlled her wardrobe. Biographer Anne Edwards said Temple’s famous hair style, known as the “Shirley Temple Curls,” was also under the control of Gertrude, who ensured there were exactly 52 ringlets in her hair for each take.

At the age of 17, Temple was married to soldier-turned-actor John Agar (1921–2002) on September 19, 1945. They had one daughter, Linda Susan Agar (later known as Susan Falaschi), born on January 30, 1948. Temple filed for divorce in late 1949, with the divorce becoming final on December 5, 1950. In early 1950, while vacationing in Hawaii, Temple met and fell in love with California businessman Charles Alden Black (1919–2005). They married on December 16 that year. Together, they had two children: Charles Alden Black Jr., born April 29, 1952, and Lori Black, born April 9, 1954. They remained married until Charles’s death from myelodysplastic syndrome (a bone marrow disease), at age 86, on August 4, 2005.

Temple has one granddaughter, Teresa Caltabiano (b. 1980), Susan’s daughter. She also has one great granddaughter, Lily Jane Caltabiano.

Movie career

In Temple’s earliest films, she danced and was able to handle complex tap choreography. She was teamed with famed dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson in The Little Colonel, The Littlest Rebel, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and Just Around the Corner. Robinson coached and developed her choreography for many of her other films. Because Robinson was African-American, the scenes of him holding hands with Temple were cut in many cities in the South, as a consequence of the segregationism common at the time. Shirley Temple once tap danced all the way down a staircase singing a line of her song on every single one of the 45 steps.

Temple made pictures with Carole Lombard, Gary Cooper, Adolphe Menjou and many others. Arthur Treacher appeared as a kindly butler in several of Temple’s films.

At the age of three, Temple began dance classes at Meglin’s Dance School in Los Angeles California. Her film career began when Charles Lamont, a casting director from Educational Pictures, visited her class. Although Temple hid behind a piano in the studio, she was chosen by Lamont, invited to audition, and eventually signed to a contract with Educational.

Temple worked at Educational from 1931 to 1934,[2] [1] and appeared in two series of short subjects for the studio. Her first series, Baby Burlesks, satirized recent motion pictures and politics. In the series, Temple would dress up in a diaper, but would otherwise wear adult clothes. Because of its depiction of young children in adult situations the series was considered controversial by some viewers. Her second series at Educational, Frolics of Youth, was a bit more acceptable, and cast her as a bratty younger sister in a contemporary suburban family.

While working for Educational Pictures, Temple performed many walk-on and bit player roles in various films at other studios. She was reported to have auditioned for a lead role in Hal Roach‘s Our Gang comedies (later known as The Little Rascals) in the early 1930s, although various reasons are given for her not having been cast in the role. Roach stated that Temple and her mother were unable to make it through the red tape of the audition process, while Our Gang producer/director Robert F. McGowan recalls the studio wanted to cast Temple, but they refused to give in to Temple’s mother’s demands that Temple receive special star billing. Temple, in her autobiography Child Star, denies auditioning for Our Gang at all.[

20th Century Fox

After appearing in Stand Up and Cheer! with James Dunn, Temple was signed to Fox Film Corporation (which later merged with 20th Century Pictures to become 20th Century Fox) in late 1933. Later, she was paired with Dunn in several films, notably her breakthrough film Bright Eyes, produced by Sol M. Wurtzel. This was the film that saved Fox from near bankruptcy in 1934 at the height of the Great Depression. It was in Bright Eyes that Temple first performed the song that would become one of her trademarks, “On the Good Ship Lollipop“. This was closely followed by the film Curly Top, in which she first sang another trademarked song, “Animal Crackers in My Soup“. In 1936, Temple was paid an unprecedented amount of money for her work on Poor Little Rich Girl: $15,000 per week. It was during this period, in the depth of the Depression, when her films were seen as bringing hope and optimism, that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is reported to have proclaimed that “as long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right.”

In 16 of the 20 films Temple made for Fox, she played characters with at least one dead parent. This was part of the formula for her films, which encouraged the adults in the audience to take on the role of her parent.

Temple became Fox’s most lucrative player. Her contract was amended several times between 1933 and 1935, and she was loaned to Paramount for a pair of successful films in 1934. For four years, she was the top-grossing box-office star in America. Shirley’s birth certificate was altered to prolong her babyhood; her birth year was advanced from 1928 to 1929. She was not told her real age until her “twelfth” (actually her thirteenth) birthday.

Temple’s films were not always seen in a positive light. The novelist Graham Greene wrote in a review for the magazine Night and Day of her appearance in Wee Willie Winkie:

Her admirers – middle-aged men and clergymen – respond to her dubious coquetry, to the sight of her well-shaped and desirable little body, packed with enormous vitality, only because the safety curtain of story and dialogue drops between their intelligence and their desire.

Temple, via her studio, was the successful plaintiff in a British libel case in 1938 against Greene’s review. The damages awarded were enough to close the magazine.

In 1940, Temple left Fox. Working steadily, she juggled classes at Westlake School for Girls with films for various other studios, including MGM and Paramount. Her most successful pictures of the time included Since You Went Away with Claudette Colbert, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer with Cary Grant, and Fort Apache with John Wayne. She retired from motion pictures in 1949.

Film career highlights

Temple was the first recipient of the special Juvenile Performer Academy Award in 1935 for recognition of her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment in 1934. Six-year-old Temple was and is the youngest performer ever to receive this honor, or any Oscar. She is also the youngest actress to add foot and hand prints to the forecourt at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. The role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz was originally meant for Judy Garland. However, MGM executives were concerned with Garland’s box office appeal. Temple was considered for the role, although she was unable to appear in the film when a trade between Fox and MGM fell through. However, Terry, who played Temple’s beloved dog Rags in Bright Eyes, was cast in The Wizard of Oz as Toto. In 1940, Temple starred in The Blue Bird, another fairy story with plot similarities to The Wizard of Oz. It was her first box-office flop. Temple was also rumored to be the inspiration for Bonnie Blue Butler in Gone with the Wind and was one of the early contenders for the role in the motion picture, but was too old by the time the film went into production.

Temple appeared in her first Technicolor film, The Little Princess, produced by Fox in 1939, near the end of her contract with them.

Temple returned to show business with the television series Shirley Temple’s Storybook, which premiered on NBC on January 12, 1958 and last aired December 1, 1959. Shirley Temple Theatre (also known as The Shirley Temple Show) premiered on NBC on September 11, 1960 and last aired September 10, 1961. Both shows featured adaptations of fairy tales and other family oriented stories. Shirley Temple was the hostess and occasional narrator/actress in both series.

In later years, Temple made occasional appearances on television talk shows, especially when she promoted her memoirs.

Political, business and diplomatic career

Temple ran unsuccessfully for Congress against retired Korean War veteran Pete McCloskey in 1967. She ran on a platform supporting America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

Temple went on to hold several diplomatic posts, serving as the U.S. delegate to many international conferences and summits. She was appointed a delegate to the United Nations by President Richard M. Nixon in 1969. She was appointed United States Ambassador to Ghana (1974–76). She became the first female Chief of Protocol of the United States in 1976, which put in her charge of all State Department ceremonies, visits, gifts to foreign leaders and co-ordination of protocol issues with all U.S. embassies and consulates. She was United States Ambassador to Czechoslovakia (1989–92) and witnessed the Velvet Revolution. She commented, about her Ambassadorship, “That was the best job I ever had.” She was designated the first Honorary Foreign Service Officer in U.S. history by then U.S. Secretary of State, George Shultz in 1987.

Temple served on the board of directors of some large enterprises including The Walt Disney Company (1974–75), Del Monte, Bancal Tri-State, and Fireman’s Fund Insurance. Her non-profit board appointments included the Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Council of American Ambassadors, the World Affairs Council, the United States Commission for UNESCO, the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, the United Nations Association, and the U.S. Citizen’s Space TaskForce.

Temple received honorary doctorates from Santa Clara University and Lehigh University, a Fellowship from College of Notre Dame, and a Chubb Fellowship from Yale University. Temple now lives in Woodside, California.

Breast cancer

Temple is often remembered as the first celebrity to publicly discuss her involvement with this form of cancer. In an interview published on the web page of the American Cancer Society, actress Barbara Barrie is quoted as saying:

Shirley Temple Black was the first person who said, on national television, ‘I have breast cancer.’ It wasn’t Betty Ford, it was Shirley Temple, child star. One of the greatest stars of the world ever. And, she was so brave to say that, because first of all, people never said “cancer” and they never said “breast”, not in public. She said it and she set the whole ball rolling. People don’t remember that, but she did it.[8]

Temple appeared on the cover of People magazine in 1999 with the title “Picture Perfect” and again later that year as part of their special report, “Surviving Breast Cancer”. She appeared at the 70th Academy Awards and also in that same year received Kennedy Center Honors.

[edit] Recent activity

In 1999, Temple hosted the AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Stars awards show on CBS, a special list from the American Film Institute and part of the AFI 100 Years… series. She was also ranked #18 in the list.

In 2001, Temple served as a consultant on the ABC Television Network production of Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story, based on part one of her autobiography.

In 2004, Temple teamed with Legend Films to restore, colorize and release her earliest black and white films, as well as episodes of her 1960 television series (originally shot on color videotape), The Shirley Temple Storybook Collection.

On September 12, 2005, Screen Actors Guild president Melissa Gilbert announced that Temple would receive the Guild’s most prestigious honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. Gilbert said:

I can think of no one more deserving of this year’s SAG Life Achievement award than Shirley Temple Black. Her contributions to the entertainment industry are without precedent; her contributions to the world are nothing short of inspirational. She has lived the most remarkable life, as the brilliant performer the world came to know when she was just a child, to the dedicated public servant who has served her country both at home and abroad for 30 years. In everything she has done and accomplished, Shirley Temple Black has demonstrated uncommon grace, talent and determination, not to mention compassion and courage. As a child, I was thrilled to dance and sing to her films and more recently as Guild president I have been proud to work alongside her, as her friend and colleague, in service to our union. She has been an indelible influence on my life. She was my idol when I was a girl and remains my idol today.

In April 2008, Shirley Temple Black broke her arm just before her 80th birthday in a fall at her suburban San Francisco home of Woodside.

References in popular culture

  • In 1965-1966, a popular main character named Curley Dimples (Gael Dixon), was a regular in the Australian children’s TV show, Magic Circle Club. Curley’s appearance and voice spoofed the iconic young Shirley Temple.
  • On The Jacksons Variety Show, Janet Jackson did a skit with brother Randy to “On the Good Ship Lollipop“.
  • New York band Interpol mention Temple by name in their song ‘The Specialist’ with the line, “put a lid on Shirley Temple.”
  • Temple was mentioned in Weird Al Yankovic‘s song “Confessions Part III”, in which the singer/comedian states that “in private, I really like to dress up as Shirley Temple and spank myself with a hockey stick.”
  • Carol Burnett occasionally performed an impression of “On the Good Ship Lollipop”, exaggerating the concentration in Temple’s face to look angry or scowling.
  • Towards the end of the Phish song “The Wolfman’s Brother,” the name “Shirley Temple” can be heard numerous times.
  • In the episode, “Last Tap Dance in Springfield,” of the animated television series, The Simpsons, a former child-star turned tap-instructor, ‘Little’ Vicki Valentine, is featured. This former-child star appears to be modeled after Temple. Also in another episode of The Simpsons entitled, “Treehouse of Horror III,” King Kong (portrayed by Homer Simpson) eats a child actress similar to Temple.
  • On the animated television show Family Guy, Stewie Griffin sings “On the Good Ship Lollipop” to get the attention of airport security when his backpack full of concealed weapons goes through the x-ray.
  • When Temple first ran for public office, a poster was published showing her in one of her earliest movies; a caption read, “Vote for Me or I’ll Hold My Breath.”
  • “Shirl” has been the nickname of two famous blond, curly-headed Australian males: Mike Williams, the (often on-screen) floor manager of the The Mike Walsh Show daytime television variety program, and rock singer Graeme Strachan of the band Skyhooks, who later became the TV host of the children’s TV show Shirl’s Neighbourhood.
  • In the animated feature film Shrek the Third, the Gingerbread Man sings “On the Good Ship Lollipop” to himself after seeing his life flash before his eyes.
  • Temple is the only person, besides The Beatles themselves, who appears more than once on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. She appears as a cut-out in the last row and a Shirley Temple doll is featured on the right side, wearing a shirt saying “Welcome The Rolling Stones“.
  • The African-American stereotypes in some of Temple’s films has been parodied on MADtv; specifically the scene from The Littlest Rebel when Bill Robinson teaches her to dance up and down the steps.
  • There is a non-alcoholic drink named after Temple. It consists of ginger ale or lemon-lime soda with grenadine (pomegranate syrup) and a whole cherry added. Consequently, a similar drink substituting cola for the ginger ale (usually referred to as a Roy Rogers) is known as a “Shirley Temple Black” in some regions.
  • In the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation entitled The Arsenal of Freedom, Riker says during his interrogation that he serves aboard the USS Lollipop, stating that “it’s a good ship.”
  • Temple is one of the celebrities caricatured in Donald Duck‘s The Autograph Hound.
  • Temple is mentioned on the song “(The legend of) Miss Baltimore Crabs” from the musical Hairspray, on the line “Childhood dreams/for me were cracked/ when that damn Shirley Temple/ stole my frickin’ act.”
  • In the 1997 movie Cats Don’t Dance, Darla Dimple is a spoof of Temple; her name was also taken from another child star of the thirties, Darla Hood.
  • In the 1997 movie Tower of Terror, Sally Shine, a child movie star, is killed in the elevator in 1939 along with four others. With her curly blonde mop, sweet demeanor, and short, flouncy dress, (and her own doll modeled after her), she appears to be modeled after Temple.
  • In the Gilmore Girls Episode Rory’s Birthday Parties, Lorelai is drinking a Shirley Temple Black and references the Good Ship Lollipop
Lorelai: (sighs, hands Rory a drink) Here.
Rory: What is it?
Lorelai: A Shirley Temple.
Rory: What are you drinking?
Lorelai: A Shirley Temple Black.
Rory: (sniffs at it) Wow.
Lorelai: I got your Good Ship Lollipop right here, mister.
  • In an episode of the hit TV show Full House, Jesse and Joey dress up as, what appears to be, Shirley Temple, and they sing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” together at the end of the episode.
  • In the episode called the snooper star from the Brady Bunch Cindy believes that she is going to become the next Shirley Temple and sings one of her songs in front of one of Mikes clients.
  • In the Pilot Episode of Mork&Mindy, Mork temporarily performs an impersonation of Shirley Temple, using “Good Ship Lollipop” as an example.
  • In Toni Morrison’s famous book (set in Lorain, Ohio, 1941), The Bluest Eye, Shirley temple was the primary evidence used to show that the ideal beauty was a blue eyed white girl.
  • In an episode of That 70s Show, Hyde, Jackie, Eric, and Donna sing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” to cover the sound of Fez peeing in a mobile home bathroom.

Not Everybody Will Like You

It is not necessarily a pleasant experience, but there will be times in our lives when we come across people who do not like us. As we know, like attracts like, so usually when they don’t like us it is because they are not like us. Rather than taking it personally, we can let them be who they are, accepting that each of us is allowed to have different perspectives and opinions. When we give others that freedom, we claim it for ourselves as well, releasing ourselves from the need for their approval so we can devote our energy toward more rewarding pursuits.

While approval from others is a nice feeling, when we come to depend on it we may lose our way on our own path. There are those who will not like us no matter what we do, but that doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with us. Each of us has our own filters built from our experiences over time. They may see in us something that is merely a projection of their understanding, but we have no control over the interpretations of others. The best we can do is to hope that the role we play in the script of their lives is helpful to them, and follow our own inner guidance with integrity.

As we reap the benefits of walking our perfect paths, we grow to appreciate the feeling of fully being ourselves. The need to have everyone like us will be replaced by the exhilaration of discovering that we are attracting like-minded individuals into our lives—people who like us because they understand and appreciate the truth of who we are. We free ourselves from trying to twist into shapes that will fit the spaces provided by others’ limited understanding and gain a new sense of freedom, allowing us to expand into becoming exactly who we’re meant to be. And in doing what we know to be right for us, we show others that they can do it too. Cocreating our lives with the universe and its energy of pure potential, we transcend limitations and empower ourselves to shine our unique light, fully and freely.

I have been watching the first two seasons of THE WEST WING, my absolute most favorite television show.

There is one particular episode that was very moving to me. Toby Ziegler, the communications director, is called to a Washington metro park by the DC police. A homeless man has been found, dead on a park bench, with a business card of Toby’s. Toby had donated his winter coat and apparently a business card remained in the pocket. Toby recognized a tatoo on the dead man’s arm alerting him to the fact that the man had served in the Marines.

Toby, disturbed by the fact this homeless veteran was not going to receive a proper burial, began pulling strings in the president’s name.

In the meantime, the president’s aide, Charlie, speaks with the presidential secretary, Mrs. Landingham. Charlie asks why she seems down. Mrs. Landingham explains, “I miss my boys around Christmas.” Her twin sons had gone to college, gotten medical degrees, and were drafted to Viet Nam. They went where they were needed. Both sons were killed while serving, and Mrs. Landingham never got to bury her sons.

The president confronts Toby upon learning that his office had been used to secure a soldier’s burial in Arlington Cemetery. The president understands, and returns to the room where a choir is singing, “The Little Drummer Boy.”

As Toby prepares to leave, Mrs. Landingham asks to join him….

This is beautifully filmed, and quite moving…


Some clips from THE WEST WING….

Feeling Jealous

Jealousy is one of the toughest feelings we come up against in our lives. There is not much worse than this aching sense that somehow life has been unfair to us, while amply rewarding someone else. It’s even worse if that someone else is present in our daily lives, making it difficult for us to get the space we need to feel and heal our pain. We may be jealous of a sibling, a dear friend, or even famous personalities. We may even face the challenge of feeling jealous of our spouse, our child, or one of our parents. Whatever the case, we can normalize our experience by understanding that, as painful as it is, jealousy is a common human feeling.

Nevertheless, it is important that we not revel in our jealousy for too long, feeding it with inner talk or gossip with others. If we do, we run the risk of losing ourselves to its negative power. Jealousy has something good to offer us, though, and that is information about our own heart’s desire. When we are jealous of certain people, we want what they have, and if we are to be conscious, we must acknowledge that. In this way, we discover what we want for ourselves, which is the first step to getting it. It may be a certain kind of relationship or a career. Whatever it is, it is possible that we could create it for ourselves, in our own lives, if we are able to honor our own desires.

Of course, there are times when we cannot heal our jealousy in this way, and then the lesson may be about acceptance and the understanding that our path is different from the paths of those around us. It may be hard to see now, but perhaps it will eventually be clear why our life has taken its particular path. In the end, the best cure for jealousy is the recognition that the life we have is full of its own meaning and beauty, utterly unique to us—a gift that could never be found in the life of another.

People In Need

When we see a person in need, we may want to give them something as a way of helping them, but if we give without taking the time to see who they really are, honoring that most of all, our gift is nowhere near as powerful as it could be. We may want to give a homeless person a sandwich, for example, but if we give it without also taking a moment to look the person in the eye, making authentic contact, we rob them of the experience of being human.

Being in a position of need leaves a lot of people feeling vulnerable and full of self-doubt. The greatest gift we can give is to meet people in need without judgment and with the awareness that we are not superior to them simply because we are not currently in their position. If we take the long view, we can see that we all began life in need of a lot of care and attention, and many of us end life in the same way. Giving and receiving are companion energies that take turns throughout our lives, and we all get a chance to be on both sides of the exchange from time to time.

It’s important to be aware of our own tendency to give from a desire to feel good about ourselves, rather than from an acknowledgement of our connection to all people. Letting go of our self-importance allows us to see that, regardless of appearances, we are all givers and receivers. When we are in the position of the giver, we honor those we are helping when we remember the many people who have helped us. Then we can look the person we are helping in the eye, aware that we are making contact with a human being who is our equal.

Peggy Barbour Straughen (born Margaret Ann Barbour), 70, of Washington Township passed away unexpectedly at Miami Valley Hospital on Tuesday, July 22, 2008. Born in Chambersburg, PA on August 21, 1937, Peggy entered nursing school in Harrisburg where she met her husband, Bill (William Joseph) Straughen. Married in 1958, they had recently celebrated their 50th anniversary withtheir children and grandchildren. Peggy was active in many ways at Normandy United Methodist Church, where she was a member for 40 years. Over her life, she sang in the choir, taught Sunday school and was a lay leader. She had a deep and abiding faith. Peggy was very active right up until her death; quilting, genealogy and playing bridge were her favorite interests. Peggy loved her swim lunch bunch and enjoyed their company often. She enjoyed traveling to see family and friends, from a high-school friend in California to family in Pennsylvania and Florida.


Darin’s tribute….

This morning, many dear friends of mine, and parishioners of Normandy United Methodist Church bid farewell to an extraordinary lady, Peggy Straughen. I don’t believe I could say that Peggy was larger than life because she WAS life! She personified how I wish I could live my own life.

The service was absolutely beautiful. In the narthex were photographs of Peggy and her family, a slide show played on the large screen in the sanctuary, and the altar was adorned with quilts made by Peggy’s own hands.

The ministers, David & Elizabeth Brown, are still fairly new, and they are both remarkable, invigorating speakers. Despite the fact I have now witnessed them presiding over two funerals, I marvel at their spirit, their passion for their ministry at Normandy, and their love and devotion to this congregation. They are indeed, a true blessing for this congregation.

The music was beautiful, and the personal tributes delightful, insightful, and moving.

So… how do I say a few words about Peggy? Woa! Say a few words? Trying to say a few words about Peggy would be like trying to fill a bath tub with the ocean.

I sat in the Normandy sanctuary this morning, just like every one else sitting in the packed church…



and with a feeling there is now a hideous void in our world as we have known it.

While I describe this brilliant lady, it would be appropriate that my writing should take on a quality of haunting strings from something like Samuel Barber’s ADAGIO FOR STRINGS.

But come on… this is for Peggy…

She was not a symphony dripping with melancholy… Peggy’s life was more like a big marching band! Peggy emulated the liveliness, strength, excitement, bounce, thrill, passion, and drive of a John Phillip Sousa march!

For those who knew Peggy, answer the following statements with True or False…

  • Peggy had a big heart.
  • Peggy loved her family dearly and fiercely.
  • Peggy had a big, hearty laugh.
  • You always knew where you stood with Peggy.
  • When you asked Peggy, “How are you doing?” More often than not, she told you what neat things her children and grandchildren were doing.
  • Peggy had a hug that was the grip of a grisly.
  • Peggy loved all her friends.
  • Peggy loved her God, loved Normandy church and its people.

Do you notice all these statements were TRUE?

Well, so was Peggy.

It was 12 years ago I met Peggy when I first arrived at Normandy as the director of music. Following my first rehearsal, Peggy charged right up to me, passing the other choir members who were coming forward to welcome me.

Peggy wanted to let me know that she was the choir’s librarian and if I needed anything, please let her know. While I greeted other choir members, Peggy waited patiently, chatting, laughing, smiling… now, keep in mind – Peggy never did anything with half-hearted effort. Her laughter was big… her smiles were huge (but oh, so warm and inviting)… the sparkle in her eyes was tremendous…

Once the last choir member had left, Peggy walked me to the music office, and began my tutorial of how “her” music library worked. When Peggy was instructing, she was never demeaning, or bossy. As someone said this morning, Peggy had high expectations of her self, and encouraged others to be accountable for their own expectations. Although Peggy’s comments to me could have appeared critical, she was simply treating me like one of her own children – she wanted me to be the best I could, and should be.

Peggy gave me my marching orders for the music library, and I commented that once summer began I would take the time to go through the files – there was a ton of music to explore.

The following week I arrived for choir rehearsal and Peggy was waiting for me. She walked me to the music office and with words that were both business like, but with an air of girlish excitement, she pointed to two large storage tubs on my desk.

Peggy took the time to pull one copy of choir music from each file folder. Each copy was placed in the tub, in order of the file cabinets, and each drawer was labeled in the tubs so that I would know exactly where to search for the folders of music!

This was brilliant, and I hugged Peggy, thanking her for all her work.

Peggy told me, “There’s no sense in you wasting your time going through the drawers. You can take these tubs home and go through them at your leisure. Besides, we’ve run off a lot of choir directors and I can tell you’re a keeper.”

And with that, Peggy was out the door, greeting other choir members.

Later that fall, on a late stormy night, I was working in the music office. I heard the front door of the Grant House open, and slam shut. The footsteps came directly to my office. There stood Peggy, rain water dripping off her rain coat, her glasses speckled with water droplets, and her hair damp.

I saw your car in the circle and the light on.  Are you OK?”

I assured Peggy I was fine and that I was just finishing up some work.

Peggy quickly assessed the project at hand, and before I knew it, her coat was draped over the chair and without invitation, she was working along side me – chatting and laughing. But before leaving for home, she gave me a hug and said, “This was fun. Thank you for letting me join you.”

When I was preparing to travel with my brother and his students to Washington, DC, I was telling the choir at rehearsal that the year before our buses drove through this beautiful Pennsylvanian town enroute to Gettysburg just as the sun was rising over the hills.

Peggy leaned forward, grinning, and asked, “Do you remember the name of that town?”

“Yes,” I said. “Chambersburg.”

The rest of the choir must have already known what Peggy squealed out with pride, and excitement. “I’m from Chambersburg!”

After rehearsal, Peggy told me about the town, and I believe her mother was still living at that time. I know she loved visiting her beloved home town.

When I returned from the trip, I handed Peggy three or four photos I had taken of Chambersburg as we were passing through. Peggy was so touched that I would not only remember, but take photos for her.

This morning, my successor as music director told the gathered loved ones how Peggy never held back on “making corrections” in rehearsals. In one rehearsal, Peggy corrected me on something – politely, but with her, “Let’s get this correct” gaze.

When we agreed on the item, Ron Thie, one of the most hilarious, lovable men I have ever known, asked Peggy, “Is there anything you need to fix with the basses, Peggy?”

The room became silent, not knowing how Peggy would react. I think I was even standing a little taller. Peggy turned in her chair, looked directly at Ron and said, “Well, since you asked…”

Peggy led the choir in explosive laughter!

Another time I forgot to cue the altos on a cut-off. This cut-off had been one of my instructions, and we had even rehearsed it. Well, during this one rehearsal, I forgot that cut-off. When I stopped the choir for notes, Peggy’s hand shot into the air.

“Are you going to cue that cut-off or not? There’s no sense in us all looking up at that point if you aren’t going to give us that cut-off.”

Be assured, that cut-off was not forgotten!

One day, I decided to spruce up my office, and discovered an artificial floral arrangement across the hallway in a closet. I set it on the file cabinets in my office. Peggy saw it just before the choir’s next rehearsal, and asked, “Did you get permission to use that arrangement?”

I look dumbfounded.

Just be sure you check with someone before you use things. People here at Normandy are kind of funny about their areas in the church.”

I asked Peggy, “Who should I ask?”

She smiled, laughed, and said, “Me, of course.”

One parishioner this morning said she and Peggy would have contests on who knew their hymns. The lady said, “As I proudly started to sing the first verse to prove I knew a hymn, Peggy would start singing the second verse.”

One of my first Sundays at Normandy, I was seated on the angle of the first row, and I noticed Peggy kept looking at me during the hymns. After service she strolled up to me and said, “I am proud of you. You didn’t crack open your hymnal for any of the hymns.”

Truth be known, I often get the first verse of a hymn, but move my mouth throughout the remainder of the hymn.

Peggy gave hugs that could weaken a quarterback. I once joked that after my first Peggy-hug, I had to go to the ER with four cracked ribs, a collapsed lung, and smashed vertebrae. Peggy never squeezed the life out of you, she squeezed her love into you.



So here I am on a Saturday night, writing about a woman that obviously touched my life in a big way… in a great, and loving way.

I hope that each of us will continue to use many of Peggy’s wonderful attributes as a guide for our own lives.

Just like Peggy…

…keep working hard and with tremendous devotion and a big passion.

….keep serving others with deep love and a big passion.

…keep loving others with sincerity and a big passion.

….and when you see someone who needs a hug, give them a Peggy Straughen hug and let them know you truly love them.

God bless you, Peggy, and thank you for touching my life… for hugging my life in a big way!


Joel OsteenKarl Taro Greenfeld of examines the money-making machine that is Houston’s Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church 

Last year, Lakewood generated $76 million in revenue, which amounts to just over $1,600 for every member of its congregation. Its take includes $44 million donated directly by congregants, who are asked to give 10 percent of their gross income; $10 million in product sales and sermon tapes; and $13 million brought in through direct-mail solicitations, up from about $6 million two years ago. The church’s greatest expense is the TV airtime it buys: $22 million last year to broadcast the show in more than 100 markets, a 10 percent annual increase in spending that is easy to justify. “Cutting back on airtime would be like saying we won’t be sending any trucks to deliver our product,” [Osteen brother-in-law Kevin] Comes says [Comes is Lakewood’s chief operating officer]. An additional $13 million goes to administrative costs and salaries, and $9 million a year is spent on facilities and maintenance. [.  .  .]

Being backstage at a Joel Osteen worship event is remarkably similar to being at an N.B.A. game or a rock concert. Beefy security guards tell you where you can and can’t go. Crew members chow down on a buffet laid out by a local caterer and bark into walkie-talkies between bites. At some point, black Town Cars head down the long, curving driveway into the belly of the arena and drop off the pastors and performers, who retreat into private suites.

The night is a celebration of music, state-of-the-art visual effects, and, of course, Christ. Lakewood spends a great deal of money attracting top gospel and Christian talent, and music minister Cindy Cruse-Ratcliff leads a team of Grammy Award winners, including gospel singer Israel Houghton. It’s a thumping occasion, with people dancing in the aisles and even the security guards singing along to “Come Just as You Are” and “We Have Overcome.” Osteen’s entire family is in the act. His mother, wife, and children often play parts in the service.

But it’s Osteen himself we have come to see. He wins the crowd over with wholesome jokes and inspires with his sweet-voiced message. The sermon today is based on the notion of “hitting the DELETE button when you have those negative thoughts.” He urges us to banish that voice telling us, “I’ll never get that great job. I’ll never meet that special someone. I’ll never get married.” Hit the delete button, he urges, and reprogram your mind. “Just one inferior thought can keep you off balance and away from your God-given destiny.”

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (AP) — Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist whose “last lecture” about facing terminal cancer became an Internet sensation and a best-selling book, died Friday. He was 47.


Randy Pausch emphasized the joy of life in his “last lecture,” originally given in September 2007.

Pausch died at his home in Virginia, university spokeswoman Anne Watzman said. Pausch and his family moved there last fall to be closer to his wife’s relatives.

Pausch was diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer in September 2006. His popular last lecture at Carnegie Mellon in September 2007 garnered international attention and was viewed by millions on the Internet.

In it, Pausch celebrated living the life he had always dreamed of instead of concentrating on impending death.

“The lecture was for my kids, but if others are finding value in it, that is wonderful,” Pausch wrote on his Web site. “But rest assured; I’m hardly unique.”

The book “The Last Lecture,” written with Jeffrey Zaslow, leaped to the top of the nonfiction best-seller lists after its publication in April and remains there this week. Pausch said he dictated the book to Zaslow, a Wall Street Journal writer, by cell phone. The book deal was reported to be worth more than $6 million.

At Carnegie Mellon, he was a professor of computer science, human-computer interaction and design, and was recognized as a pioneer of virtual reality research. On campus, he became known for his flamboyance and showmanship as a teacher and mentor.

The speech last fall was part of a series Carnegie Mellon called “The Last Lecture,” where professors were asked to think about what matters to them most and give a hypothetical final talk. The name of the lecture series was changed to “Journeys” before Pausch spoke, something he joked about in his lecture.

“I thought, damn, I finally nailed the venue and they renamed it,” he said.

He told the packed auditorium he fulfilled almost all his childhood dreams — being in zero gravity, writing an article in the World Book Encyclopedia and working with the Walt Disney Co.

The one that eluded him? Playing in the National Football League.

“If I don’t seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you,” Pausch said.

He then joked about his quirky hobby of winning stuffed animals at amusement parks — another of his childhood dreams — and how his mother introduced him to people to keep him humble: “This is my son, he’s a doctor, but not the kind that helps people.”

Pausch said he was embarrassed and flattered by the popularity of his message. Millions viewed the complete or abridged version of the lecture, titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” online.

Pausch lobbied Congress for more federal funding for pancreatic cancer research and appeared on “Oprah” and other TV shows. In what he called “a truly magical experience,” he was even invited to appear as an extra in the new “Star Trek” movie.

He had one line of dialogue, got to keep his costume and donated his $217.06 paycheck to charity.

Pausch blogged regularly about his medical treatment. On Feb. 15, exactly six months after he was told he had three to six months of healthy living left, Pausch posted a photo of himself to show he was “still alive & healthy.”

“I rode my bike today; the cumulative effects of the chemotherapy are hurting my stamina some, but I bet I can still run a quarter mile faster than most Americans,” he wrote.

Pausch gave one more lecture after his Carnegie Mellon appearance — in November at the University of Virginia, where he had taught from 1988 to 1997.

Pausch often emphasized the need to have fun.

“I mean I don’t know how to not have fun. I’m dying and I’m having fun. And I’m going to keep having fun every day I have left. Because there’s no other way to play it,” he said in his Carnegie Mellon lecture. “You just have to decide if you’re a Tigger or an Eeyore. I think I’m clear where I stand on the great Tigger/Eeyore debate. Never lose the childlike wonder. It’s just too important. It’s what drives us.”

Born in 1960, Pausch received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Brown University and his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon.

He co-founded Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center, a master’s program for bringing artists and engineers together. The university named a footbridge in his honor. He also created an animation-based teaching program for high school and college students to have fun while learning computer programming.

In February, the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences in California announced the creation of the Dr. Randy Pausch Scholarship Fund for university students who pursue careers in game design, development and production.

He and his wife, Jai, had three children, Dylan, Logan and Chloe.

And the 2008 marching season is off and… marching. Sunday, I take Jose out to Wright State University where he will stay until Thursday evening for band camp.

Here is a video taken by one of the students – the start of the marching season…

By Andrew Gans
24 Jul 2008

Performances have yet to begin, but box-office demand is so high that the Guthrie has extended its upcoming world premiere of the musical version of Little House on the Prairie.

Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls Wilder on NBC’s long-running “Little House on the Prairie” series, will play Ma in the musical version of Prairie, which begins previews at the Minneapolis venue July 26. The Little Mermaid‘s Francesca Zambello directs.

Originally scheduled to run through Oct. 5, the production will now play an additional two weeks through Oct. 19. Opening night remains Aug. 15.

The cast will also feature Steve Blanchard (Beauty and the Beast, Frankenstein) as Pa, Carnegie Mellon graduate Kara Lindsay as Laura, Jenn Gambatese (Tarzan, Is He Dead?) as Mary, Sara Jean Ford (The Phantom of the Opera) as Nellie and Kevin Massey (Big River, Tarzan) as Almanzo Wilder.

The ensemble will comprise Tori Adams, Mathias Anderson, Lexy Armour, Robert O. Berdahl, Kurt Engh, Shawn Hamilton, Caroline Innerbichler, Norah Long, Ryan McCartan, Addi McDaniel, Mary Jo Mecca, Patricia Noonan, Prince Michael Okolie, James Ramlet, David L. Ruffin, Gayle Samuels, Amy Schroeder, Tony Vierling and Jordan Young.

It was producer Ben Sprecher, who is attached to the project, who contacted Gilbert about appearing in the musical. Gilbert told Variety, “I’m very careful about the way the legacy is handled. My primary concern was that the material was done the right way.”

The new musical features a book by Rachel Sheinkin, music by Rachel Portman and lyrics by Donna DiNovelli.

The Guthrie describes Little House as such: “Though their DeSmet, South Dakota, farmstead comes with many new challenges, the Ingalls family perseveres through the hardships of pioneer life to find hope, love and the promise of a new beginning in a land of endless sky and open prairie. As Laura struggles to overcome a lifelong loathing of school and frequent battles with a town rival, her older sister’s sudden blindness and a harsh winter blizzard test the independent spirit of this young pioneer. Forced to grow up quickly, she follows an unexpected calling, becoming a teacher and finding love on the prairie.”

The creative team for Little House also includes set designer Adrianne Lobel, costume designer Jess Goldstein, lighting designer Mark McCullough, sound designer Scott W. Edwards, choreographer Michele Lynch and musical director Mary-Mitchell Campbell.

Little House on the Prairie is being produced at the Guthrie by special arrangement with Global Prairie Productions, Inc.

The Guthrie is located at 818 South 2nd Street in downtown Minneapolis.

Three friends of mine lost their mothers within this week… all three died suddenly.

Duneen DeVore lost her mother last Friday. Duneen sang in my church choir at Normandy United Methodist Church, and along with her son, Erick, now 21, was in THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Bonnie’s services are private.

Heidi Anderson, my all time favorite costumer for shows, lost her mother, Peggy Straughen. Peggy sang in my church choir at Normandy United Methodist Church, and was also my librarian. Peggy fell and was unresponsive. I will attend Peggy’s services Saturday morning.

Kathleen (Katie) Pfister-Musick, one of my favorite musical theatre stars from our NYC days, lost her mother. Sadly, the family has been most worried about her father who is battling an agressive cancer. Katie and her husband have been living in Kansas City, but will move shortly to Illinois where MIke will be teaching theatre.  I will drive to Columbus, Ohio for Mrs. Pfister’s mass/funeral Thursday morning.


“Somehow I can’t believe there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C’s. They are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy and the greatest of these is Confidence. When you believe a thing, believe it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.”

This is the second time I have seen this documentary, and it is one of my favorites: WALT: THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH. I just feel happy when I watch this documentary as it is delightful, uplifting and inspiring as any Disney movie.

The neat thing is, it was produced by his eldest grandson, Walter Elias Disney Miller, and his younger grandson, Christopher Disney Miller.  These two artists have also had their hand in many different motion picture projects… neat stuff!

Quotes by Walt Disney…

“We are not trying to entertain the critics. I’ll take my chances with the public.”

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”

“When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do. And one thing it takes to accomplish something is courage.”

“Whenever I go on a ride, I’m always thinking of what’s wrong with the thing and how it can be improved.”

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

“Laughter is America’s most important export.”

“Why do we have to grow up? I know more adults who have the children’s approach to life. They’re people who don’t give a hang what the Joneses do. You see them at Disneyland every time you go there. They are not afraid to be delighted with simple pleasures, and they have a degree of contentment with what life has brought – sometimes it isn’t much, either.”

“The era we are living in today is a dream of coming true.”

“There is more treasure n books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island and at the bottom of the Spanish Main … and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.”

“Or heritage and ideals, our code and standards – the things we live by and teach our children – are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.”

“I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.”       

“Mickey Mouse is, to me, a symbol of independence. He was a means to an end.”

“To all that come to this happy place: welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America… with hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”



Evelyn Keyes, left, in 2002 with two of her “Gone With the Wind” co-stars, Ann Rutherford and Rand Brooks.


Published: July 12, 2008

Evelyn Keyes, one of the last surviving co-stars of “Gone With the Wind” and a popular film actress in the 1940s, died on July 4 at an assisted-living home in Montecito, Calif. She was 91.

Ms. Keyes died of cancer, said the producer Allan Glaser, a friend, who told The Associated Press that the announcement had been delayed until the death certificate was filed.

Ms. Keyes played the pouty Suellen O’Hara, whose sister Scarlett steals her longtime boyfriend and marries him just to pay the taxes on the plantation, in the Academy Award-winning 1939 movie classic. But in later years she became almost as well known for her first memoir, “Scarlett O’Hara’s Younger Sister,” as for any of her movie roles. The book, published in 1977, concentrated on her numerous marriages and love affairs with the mostly rich and famous.

She was quoted as saying, “I always took up with the man of the moment and there were many such moments.”

Her first husband (1938-40) was Barton Bainbridge, a businessman. After she left him, for the Budapest-born director Charles Vidor, he committed suicide. She and Mr. Vidor married in 1944, but divorced the next year. Her third husband was John Huston, the director, writer, producer and actor.

After her 1950 divorce from Huston, Ms. Keyes was the constant companion of the producer Mike Todd. He left her for Elizabeth Taylor in 1956. The next year Ms. Keyes married the bandleader Artie Shaw (whose ex-wives included Ava Gardner and Lana Turner). They separated in the 1970s, but did not divorce until 1985. After his death in 2004 she sued his estate and was awarded $1.42 million.

Ms. Keyes also had romances with Anthony Quinn, David Niven and Kirk Douglas, according to her book.

She made other notable films as well. In the heaven-and-earth fantasy “Here Comes Mr. Jordan” (1941), she played the love interest of Robert Montgomery. In “The Jolson Story” (1946), she played a character based on Ruby Keeler, opposite Larry Parks as Al Jolson.

Evelyn Keyes was born on Nov. 20, 1916, in Port Arthur, Tex. Her father died when she was 2, and she grew up living with her mother and her grandmother in Atlanta, where she took voice and dance lessons. Weekend dancing jobs paid for her train fare to Hollywood.

Ms. Keyes made her film debut in Cecil B. DeMille’s pirate picture “The Buccaneer” (1938), starring Fredric March. After six more movie roles, four of them uncredited, she was cast in “Gone With the Wind.”

After that she made two pictures, “The Lady in Question” and “Ladies in Retirement,” directed by Mr. Vidor. She starred in at least six with Glenn Ford, beginning with “The Adventures of Martin Eden” and ending with “Mr. Soft Touch.” “Mrs. Mike” (1949), a Canadian Mounties drama, was said to be one of her favorites.

Her last notable movie role was as the wife whose out-of-town trip makes it possible for Tom Ewell to flirt with Marilyn Monroe in Billy Wilder’s “Seven Year Itch” (1955). Her final film role was in “Wicked Stepmother” (1989), a horror fantasy with Bette Davis. Her final screen appearance was in a 1993 episode of the CBS series “Murder, She Wrote.”

The actor Tab Hunter, a close friend, has talked about making a film based on her autobiographical 1971 novel, “I Am a Billboard.” The tentative title is “Georgia Peach,” but Ms. Keyes did not identify with the South.

“I have no roots,” she told The New York Times in 1977. “I deliberately set out to destroy them, and I did. If there’s any such thing as a hometown for me, it’s Hollywood. I was formed here as an adult.”

Saying Thank You

We may have become accustomed to asking for help from the unseen world—whether from angels, guides, or ancestral spirits—but sometimes we may forget to close our connection afterwards with a thank you. When we connect to these energies for assistance, it is much like a phone connection. Forgetting to close the conversation with a proper “goodbye” is like not hanging up. While that line is still connected, others can have trouble getting through, while in the meantime, batteries are being drained. Saying “thank you” is a way of releasing our concerns into trusted hands and getting out of the way so that the universe’s divine order can work on our behalf.

As spiritual beings, we may talk about “staying connected,” but our connection needs to be with our source. We can plug in and recharge, but we run on batteries in between, and every connection we make utilizes some of our personal power. Even being surrounded by people that energize us has its limits, and at some point we will feel ready to go off on our own to do what is ours to do. Instead of trying to be constantly connected, we can turn to these beings for help in a way that is more like placing an order. We contact them, ask for what we need, and then say thank you and goodbye.

Beings of light don’t require our gratitude; it is an energetic acknowledgement of trust and release that benefits us. When we bring ourselves to a sense of being grateful, we affirm that what we have asked is already done. Then we can move forward with confidence to do the things we are meant to do, while knowing that all will be well.

Estelle Getty was a very good mother.

The actress, whose knack for being cast as a maternal unit paid off handsomely when she was cast as Beatrice Arthur‘s no-holds-barred mother on the long-running TV hit The Golden Girls, died early today at her Los Angeles home, her son Carl Gettleman said.

Getty, who was three days shy of her 85th birthday, succumbed to Lewy Body Dementia, a disease with symptoms that mimic Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

A perennial award nominee for The Golden Girls, which ran for seven seasons, from 1985 to 1992, Getty won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her work as Sophia Petrillo, the shuffling octogenarian with the muted self-censor button who was never without her handbag—or a wisecrack.

Arthur said today she will miss her former costar.

“Our mother-daughter relationship was one of the greatest comic duos ever,” Arthur said in a statement.

The onscreen relationship worked so well, in fact, that the casual viewer never suspected the offscreen truth that was masked by Getty’s granny wig and glasses: The TV daughter was older than the TV mother. (Arthur was born, depending on the source, in either May 1923 or May 1922.)

Cast as the most senior of the show’s Miami women of a certain age, Getty wasn’t even the second oldest cheesecake-eating Golden Girl. Betty White, who played naive Rose, also was older than Getty.

Age 62 at the time of the show’s premiere, Getty was the least-well-known member of the gang of four, which was rounded out by Rue McClanahan as the hot ‘n’ steamy Blanche. While her costars had all been prime-time fixtures on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (White) and Maude (Arthur and McClanahan), Getty had been but a bit player whose screen career had begun seven years prior.

Theater audiences, at least, were familiar with her work. In 1982, Getty earned a Drama Desk nomination for Torch Song Trilogy, the groundbreaking Harvey Fierstein play that put the middle-aged Getty on the road to “overnight” success.

In Torch Song, Getty played Fierstein’s in-denial mother. Getty, by her own account, played the mother to “everyone but Attila the Hun,” including Cher (Mask) and Sylvester Stallone (Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot).

More than anything, Getty played Sophia.

NBC deployed her and her character seemingly whenever one of its shows needed a little Golden Girls ratings magic. In all, Getty showed up in Sophia guise on Blossom, Empty Nest and Nurses.

In the fall of 1992, months after The Golden Girls finally expired, Getty, White and McClanahan reteamed for the spinoff, The Golden Palace, which moved the franchise from NBC to CBS and their characters from Blanche’s home to a hotel. It lasted only one season.

Getty continued to work until 2000, when her dementia became more pronounced. Her illness forced her to miss more than one reunion with her signature costars, including the 2003 TV special, The Golden Girls: Their Greatest Moments.

Born Estelle Scher on July 25, 1923, Getty set aside early acting ambitions to become a “housewife in Bayshore, Queens,” as the New York Times put it in a 1982 article.

Getty, then 58, told the newspaper she thought she was too old for Broadway. But given a chance meeting with Fierstein at a party in the 1970s, the novice turned positively Sophia-esque .

“I said to him, ‘If you’re such a hotshot playwright, why don’t you write a play with a mother in it—so I can play it,'” Getty said. “A year later he sent me this play to read. He had never seen my work, but decided I could do it.”

And she could.

What a great weekend! Full of life and energy, and new horizons.

When we returned from Indiana and Chicago, it was evident my son was in an entirely new place in his mind, and his life. Being with my brother and sister-in-law, seeing how family values, morals, and class are the same in their home as they are our own. Jose clearly recognized, on his own, how important it is to choose the right people for friends. Yea!

Last Wednesday Jose and I had a very long conversation, and he readily admitted he had arrived at a new place in his life, and thinking. It was so refreshing, and quite a relief to know he had finally seen the light in some of the darker areas of his life – mostly where his friends are concerned. Jose expressed that, like myself, and his uncle and aunt, you cannot grow as an individual until you surround your self with the very best people – friends who will not manipulate or play games, friends who are not into the Jerry Springer drama, those who will allow you to grow as a person and in other relationships.

Jose was also excited because he realized he was in love with someone – a girl he has known for quite a while. We chatted about this, and I know he has made a brilliant choice in this particular area of his life. He realized this young lady was a lot like his Aunt Stacia – a real lady who has class, values, and a life that is so far removed from what he had known as a child.

Friday morning, at 12:25am, Jose and I, joined by one of the most adorable young ladies in the world, went to see THE DARK KNIGHT. It was worth the 3:45am time of rolling through the door.

Friday night Jose went to a party at Jackson Lockhart’s with a ton of other wonderful “good kids.” He was a little apprehensive about going because those teens were so different than those who had been holding him back from so much. However, he had the best time of his life and addressed the fact that he was so glad he went because he realized what he had thrown away.

Saturday we got his temporary license kit, and ran errands. At lunch, I looked at my son and realized how much he had indeed grown while staying with Destin and Stacia. His vision was brighter, and he seems to be soaring on the inside. I know this is going to be a great year for Jose as long as opposing forces of a darker nature do not attempt to penetrate his current mind set, and prey on his kind heartedness.

Sunday was another great day. My son is going to be OK. He is now surrounded by a strong team of individuals who have stepped up to the plate these past few days to make certain he will succeed and will not fall into the trap of unreliable, unmotivated, unacceptable forces that nearly robbed him of an incredible future.

Today, Jose returned to band. This past week was filled with torment from all the major decisions he had to make in regard to his future, and shedding all the garbage that had been weighing him down. He returned home from band this morning on an emotional high of knowing his life is now within his own grasp, and that no one, or no one thing can get in his way except for himself. If he is sidetracked from his dreams it is due to choices. If he feels he has been sidetracked by friends, he has chosen those friends. If he feels sidetracked by certain conditions, that too is of his own choosing.

I have confidence that my son will do well in life, and I am so fortunate that our family has been blessed with wonderful people who love us, and want to see us protected. Many of the band kids who know us had sent me emails explaining how they now had great hopes for Jose’s future and that they would help protect him. This afternoon and evening, I received even more emails from band kids and parents who are so happy Jose is back on track with life. Many of the band kids and parents know Jose will be tempted, and manipulated to returning to his former life, but they are determined to not allow this to happen.

Surrounding one’s self with the “right” people – good people – is vital. Some can even believe they are good people, but it is due to the fact they are so mired in their own inability to see past their live’s conditions. If all you know is good you will often follow that path. If all you have known is drama, manipulation, and a life lacking in values, that’s what you will continue to follow. Jose’s early years were not healthy, and since being in our home he has learned the incredible world that is possible. Even though he will be tempted by a replay of his former life, he still recognizes and desires the values that will lead him through life. Some of his former friends were just not there, nor will they be as they are weighed down in a mentality that is terribly foreign to our home, and our world. However, those dark forces will always be seeking to lure him back into the caverns of their pitiful ways. They will want to remind him of false notions that represented a way of life to which he seemed to be drawn. But they fear loosing a quality person like my son because they will never be able to achieve better.

But Jose is in a much better, stronger place!

Seeing all the good kids who have surrounded him is encouraging. I know the manipulative forces of his past will continue to haunt him, and test him to return to the dark side, but his friends, family and I will never let this happen. No matter what it takes, his dedicated friends who have stepped up to the plate these past few days are determined to see he stays the course.

Prayers do get answered!

Enjoying Life

Life, in all of its fullness, is happening right now. While our thoughts are sometimes elsewhere, beautiful opportunities and moments are being passed over and lost to the flow of time. And though we cannot possibly fully experience each leaf that falls to the ground, sometimes we get so attached to reaching our goals that we don’t pay attention to the wonder all around us. When we do that, we live in a world that exists only in our heads, while we miss life itself. There is so much to be enjoyed and appreciated that we need to remember to pay attention to the present moment, because it is the only space in which we can experience being alive.We learn from our past, but dwelling on it keeps us from being fully present to life in the moment. We create our lives with our thoughts, but focusing so firmly on our imagined future keeps us from co-creating with the universe, so we might never allow ourselves to live our dreams as they manifest. It’s possible to be so happy and comfortable in our inner worlds that we lose touch with the business of life. We may enjoy spending large portions of time in meditation, or focused on our thoughts.

Life must be attended to, and if we are wise, we can enjoy it at the same time. We can awaken ourselves to the moment we are living right now by taking a deep breath and simply looking around. In doing so, we refocus our attention to our location in the real world. Then we can learn to appreciate the process of working toward our goals as much as their attainment. Balancing ourselves between the present moment and eternity, we can experience and enjoy the full range of reality available to us as spiritual beings living on earth.

Showing Up For Life

The way we walk into a room says a lot about the way we live our lives. When we walk into a room curious about what’s happening, willing to engage, and perceiving ourselves as an active participant with something to offer, then we have really shown up to the party. When we walk into a room with our eyes down, or nervously smiling, we are holding ourselves back for one reason or another. We may be hurting inside and in need of healing, or we may lack the confidence required to really be present in the room. Still, just noticing that we’re not really showing up, and having a vision of what it will look and feel like when we do, can give us the inspiration we need to recover ourselves.Even if we are suffering, we can show up to that experience ready to fully engage in it and learn what it has to offer. When we show up for our life, we are actively participating in being a happy person, achieving our goals, and generally living the life our soul really wants. If we need healing, we begin the process of seeking out those who can help us heal. If we need experience, we find the places and opportunities that can give us the experience we need in order to do the work we want to do in the world. Whatever we need, we look for it, and when we find it, we engage in the process of letting ourselves have it. When we do this kind of work, we become lively, confident, and passionate individuals.

There is almost nothing better in the world than the feeling of showing up for our own lives. When we can do this, we become people that are more alive and who have the ability to make things happen in our lives and the lives of the people around us. We walk through the world with the knowledge that we have a lot to offer and the desire to share it.


A relationship, in the truest sense of the word, means relating to another. Usually when we say that we relate to someone, it is because we’ve found common ground. But part of relating is finding ways to make ideas that seem different come together. So often when we choose relationships, we try to fit another person into our predetermined ideal. When they don’t fit perfectly, we may try to make them over, creating our own vision from the raw material they’ve brought. But unless someone asks for guidance and direction, entering into a relationship with someone we want to change is dishonest. Then our relationship becomes with someone we’ve imagined, and anytime our partner steps outside of that imaginary projection, we will be disappointed. An honest relationship is one in which we accept each other as whole individuals, and find a way to share our life experiences together. Then, whenever we want, we can choose as a couple to give the relationship a makeover by renewing the ! way we interact.By wanting to give another person a makeover, we are basically saying we don’t accept them for who they are. If we take a moment to imagine the roles reversed, we can get a sense of how it would feel if our beloved only committed to us because they thought we were, or would become, someone else entirely. In such an environment, we are not relating to each other from a real place, and we are keeping ourselves from being able to learn and grow from the different viewpoints that our partners offer.

If we feel that a change is needed in our relationship, the only makeover that we truly have the power to make is on ourselves. By accepting our partners for exactly who they are—the ideal and the not-so-ideal—we will create an energetic shift in our relationships, and we may find ourselves really appreciating our partners for the first time. Working from within, we determine how we relate to the people and the world around us, and when we can accept it and embrace it all, without conditions, we make every act of relating a positive one.




Fill Yourself from the Inside Out

Life presents us with many opportunities to gain mastery in tending our own energy fields. At times we may want to protect ourselves by using energy shields of color, light or angelic presence. Or in order to become more grounded, we may run energy down through our feet or first chakra, rooting ourselves to the earth. Sometimes it’s appropriate to play openly with others in an expansive, flowing state; and at other times, we may want to limit our availability to a chosen few. In certain public environments such as graduation ceremonies, work conventions, or even weddings, it may be important to remain open-hearted and able to connect, while still preventing our individual systems from depletion or overwhelm. In these situations, rather than putting a barrier between ourselves and the world around us, we can fill our energy fields from the inside out. In doing this, we become so filled with our own personal energy that no room is left for outside influences or discordant energy to enter in and affect us.
When you need to connect with people on a one-to-one basis, separate from the bustling environment around you, here is a visualization technique you might try. You can start in the morning and repeat any time as needed. Begin by taking a few moments to breathe deeply and relax. When you are calm and present, envision a ball of light in your solar plexus area just above your belly button. Allow it to build there, growing stronger and stronger. Eventually, allow the light to expand throughout the rest of your body until it fills your entire physical and energetic field.

By filling yourself with your own energy in this way, you become fortified with your own power. You retain access to all of your intuitive and mental abilities. And, you are able to act from a loving space in the midst of any situation.


Living A Day In Grace

Grace is always with us. It flows like a river through our lives, artfully reminding us that there is magic and power beyond what our eyes can see. At times we catch its subtle beauty, like during chance meetings, near misses, and insights that seem to come from nowhere. Other times we experience grace in all its powerful surety such as when a job or relationship comes to an end. Though we may forget that this is grace at work too, it is indeed influencing our lives, helping us to move forward and take the next step. Grace exists in all situations, in every moment, yet all too often we may overlook its presence.

Imagine how it would feel to live an entire day in grace, to fully appreciate that your day is unfolding in absolute perfection. Whereas usually you might miss the magic in ordinary events and interactions, on this day you would recognize them all as little miracles. Perhaps you could begin with your first deep breaths in the morning, becoming aware that there is an abundant supply of air for you to breathe. Your lungs know just how to carry oxygen to your blood, and your blood knows where to carry it from there. This is grace at work. You might appreciate the brilliant sunshine, the warm summertime rain, or the possibilities for learning that greet you at every turn. You might notice the ease with which you do your job or laugh with a close friend. These things are also grace. Even laying your head down at the end of this day and resting in the stillness of night is grace.

With each opportunity you give yourself to enjoy this current of benevolence, you may discover a deeper peace. Your faith may strengthen and your heart may open. You might begin to wonder if struggle is really all that necessary after all. By living this one day in grace, you might open the door to many more.


Today is an anniversary for two of my heroes… one died, and one was born….

JOSHUA LOGAN – (October 5, 1908July 12, 1988) was an American stage and film director and writer.


Logan began his Broadway career as an actor in Carry Nation in 1932. He then spent time in London, where he “stag[ed] two productions … and direct[ed] a touring revival of Camille“. He also worked as an assistant stage manager. After a short time in Hollywood, Logan directed On Borrowed Time on Broadway. The play ran for a year, but his first major success came in 1938, when he directed I Married an Angel. Over the next few years he directed Knickerbocker Holiday, Morning’s at Seven, Charlie’s Aunt, and By Jupiter.

In 1942 Logan was drafted by the US Army. During his service in World War II, he acted as a public-relations and intelligence officer. When the war concluded he was discharged as a captain, and returned to Broadway. He married his second wife, actress Nedda Harrigan, in 1945; Logan’s previous marriage, to actress Barbara O’Neil, a colleague of his at the University Players in the 1930s, had ended in divorce.

After the war, Logan directed the Broadway productions Annie Get Your Gun, John Loves Mary, Mister Roberts, South Pacific, and Fanny. He shared the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Drama with Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II for co-writing South Pacific. The show also earned him a Tony Award for Best Director. Despite his contributions to the musical, in their review the New York Times originally omitted his name as co-author, and the Pulitzer Prize committee initially awarded the prize to only Rodgers and Hammerstein. Although the mistakes were corrected, in his autobiography Logan wrote “I knew then why people fight so hard to have their names in proper type. It’s not just ego or ‘the principle of the thing,’ it’s possibly another job or a better salary. It’s reassurance. My name had been so minimized that I lived through years of having people praise ‘South Pacific’ in my presence without knowing I had had anything to do with.”

Logan cowrote, coproduced, and directed the 1952 musical Wish You Were Here. After the show was not initially successful, Logan quickly wrote 54 new pages of material, and by the ninth performance the show looked new. In its fourth week of release, the show sold out, and continued to offer sell-out performance for the next two years.


When director John Ford became sick, Logan reluctantly returned to Hollywood to complete the filming of Mister Roberts (1955). Logan’s other hit films included Picnic (1955), Bus Stop (1956), Sayonara (1957), and South Pacific (1958). He was nominated for an Academy Award for Directing for Picnic and Sayonara.

His later Broadway musicals All-American (1962) and Mr. President (1962) and the films of Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot (1967), and Paint Your Wagon (1969) were less acclaimed. Logan’s 1976 autobiography Josh: My Up-and-Down, In-and-Out Life talks frankly about his bipolar disorder. He appeared with his wife in the 1977 nightclub revue Musical Moments, featuring Logan’s most popular Broadway numbers. He published Movie Stars, Real People, and Me in 1978. From 1983-1986, he taught theater at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. He was also responsible for bringing Carol Channing to Broadway in Lend an Ear!.

Logan died in 1988 in New York of supranuclear palsy.

OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II – (July 12, 1895August 23, 1960) was an American writer, producer, and (usually uncredited) director of musicals for almost forty years. He was twice awarded an Oscar for “Best Original Song“, and much of his work has been admitted into the unofficial Great American Songbook.

Rodgers and Hammerstein

Hammerstein’s most successful and sustained collaboration, however, came in 1943 when he teamed up with Richard Rodgers to write a musical adaptation of the play Green Grow the Lilacs. Rodgers’ first partner, Lorenz Hart, was originally going to join in the collaboration but was too deeply entrenched in alcoholism to be of any use. The result of the new Rodgers and Hammerstein collaboration was Oklahoma!, a show which revolutionized the American musical theatre by tightly integrating all the aspects of musical theater, with the songs and dances arising out of the plot and characters. It also began a partnership which would produce such classic Broadway musicals as Carousel, Allegro, South Pacific, The King and I, Me & Juliet, Pipe Dream, Flower Drum Song, and The Sound of Music as well as the musical film State Fair (and its stage adaptation of the same name) and the television musical Cinderella, all of which were featured in the revue A Grand Night for Singing. Hammerstein also produced the book and lyrics for Carmen Jones, an adaptation of Georges Bizet‘s opera Carmen with an all-black cast.

Oscar Hammerstein II is today considered one of the most important figures in the history of American musical theater. He was probably the best “book writer” in Broadway history – he made the story, not the songs or the stars, central to the musical, and brought it to full maturity as an art form. His reputation for being “sentimental”, is based largely on the movie versions of the musicals, especially The Sound of Music, in which a song sung by those in favor of pacification with the Nazis, No Way to Stop It, was cut. As recent revivals of Show Boat, Oklahoma!, Carousel, and The King and I in London and New York show, Hammerstein was one of the more tough-minded and socially conscious American musical theater artists. Oscar Hammerstein believed in love; he did not believe that it would always end happily.

Death and honors

Hammerstein is the only person named Oscar ever to win an Oscar (Academy Award). He won two Oscars for best original song—in 1941 for “The Last Time I Saw Paris” in the film Lady Be Good, and in 1945 for “It Might As Well Be Spring” in State Fair. In 1950, the team of Rodgers and Hammerstein received The Hundred Year Association of New York‘s Gold Medal Award “in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York.”

Hammerstein died of stomach cancer in his home in Doylestown, Pennsylvania at the age of 65, shortly after the opening of The Sound of Music on Broadway, thus ending one of the most remarkable collaborations in the history of the American musical theatre. The final song he wrote was “Edelweiss” which was added during rehearsals near the end of the second act. To this day, many think it is an Austrian folk song. Sadly, he never lived to see The Sound of Music made into the 1965 film adaptation which became internationally loved, won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and became perhaps his most well-known legacy.

Universally mourned, with the lights of Times Square and London’s West End being dimmed in recognition of his contribution to the musical, he was cremated at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, and later buried at Southwark Cathedral, England. He was survived by his second wife Dorothy Blanchard Jacobson and his three children, William and Alice by first wife Myra Finn and James by Jacobson.

Cellars Contain Evidence from the Lives of the Washington Family

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – Archaeologists working at the site of George Washington’s childhood home have located and excavated the remains of the long-sought house where Washington was raised.  The site was the setting of some of the best-known stories related to his youth, including tales of the cherry tree and throwing a stone across the Rappahannock River.

Digging at the Ferry Farm site near Fredericksburg, Va., the archaeologists say that evidence unearthed over seven season of excavation has positively confirmed the foundation and cellars that remain from the clapboard-covered wood structure that once housed George, his parents and siblings.      
     “This is it – this is the site of the house where George Washington grew up,” said David Muraca, director of archaeology for The George Washington Foundation (GWF), which owns the property.  Fredericksburg lies about 50 miles south of Washington, D.C., and Ferry Farm is just across the Rappahannock River in Stafford County, Va.  
     Muraca, working with historical archaeologist Philip Levy, associate professor of history at the University of South Florida, found from the evidence that far from being the rustic cottage of common perception, the Washington house was a much larger one-and-a-half-story residence, perched on a bluff overlooking the Rappahannock.  The evidence also shows that a fire that struck the home on Christmas Eve of 1740 apparently was small and localized.  Historians had long believed that the fire had driven the family to live in out-buildings while waiting out repairs.  


“If George Washington did indeed chop down a cherry tree, as generations of Americans have believed, this is where it happened,” said Levy, whose research is partly funded by National Geographic.  “There is little actual documentary evidence of Washington’s formative years.  What we see at this site is the best available window into the setting that nurtured the father of our country.”   
     Although the 113-acre National Historic Landmark site called Ferry Farm was known to have been the former home and farm of the Washington family, several attempts by others to locate the house among remains of five farms that once stood on the land had failed.  In their search, the GWF archaeologists excavated two other areas on the property, uncovering remains of one house that predated the Washingtons’ home and one from the 19th century. 


Most of the wood and other elements of the original Washington structure are long gone – many of them “recycled” by builders of houses later built on the property or destroyed by Civil War troops who once camped there – and part of the house foundation has eroded away.  But as they dug through layers of soil, the archaeologists came upon the remains of two chimney bases, two elegantly crafted stone-lined cellars and two root cellars, where perishables once were stored. 
     Excavation of the four cellars yielded thousands of artifacts – pieces of the house’s ceilings, painted walls and family hearth; fragments of 18th-century pottery and other ceramics; glass shards, wig curlers and toothbrush handles made of bone.  The cellars constituted a time capsule of evidence that helped the archaeologists confirm that they had indeed found the long-lost residence.  (Complete press release available here…)


* * * * *

Stafford is honored to be home for the George Washington’s Boyhood Home, Ferry Farm.   George Washington moved here to Ferry Farm at the age of six, and lived here until the age of 19.  Here, young George grew to manhood, developing his morals, as we know through tales of the “chopping of the cherry tree.”  Though no structures remain on The Washington Family Farm site, archaeological digs are on-going to locate the foundation of the original house.  Self-guided walking tours of the property are open to the public. 

  • Website:
  • Hours of Operation:  10am-5pm, daily
  • Admission:  $5.00 Adults, $3.00 Youth (6-17).  Free for kids under 6.
  • Closed:  Thanksgiving Day, Dec. 24, 25, 31
  • Group Tours:  Available any time by appointment at group rates
  • Archaeological Dig Site:  Open May-September
  • Address:  268 King’s Highway, Fredericksburg, VA  22405
  • Location:  Stafford County, VA (east of Fredericksburg on State Route 3)
  • Phone:  (540) 370-0732
  • Fax:  (540) 371-3398

    Staff & Visitors really “Dig George” at Ferry Farm!

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) — A Las Vegas man who devised a calendar that features shirtless Mormon missionaries is facing a disciplinary hearing and possible excommunication because of the project.

The "Men on a Mission" calendar featuring shirtless Mormon missionaries.

The “Men on a Mission” calendar featuring shirtless Mormon missionaries.

A lifetime member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Chad Hardy was summoned by letter to a Sunday meeting with a council of elders to discuss his “conduct unbecoming a member of the church.”

A copy of the letter from Frank E. Davie, the senior leader over a group of Mormon congregations in the Las Vegas area, was provided to The Associated Press. It was sent early this week, days before the 2009 version of the “Men on a Mission” calendar went to press, Hardy said in a telephone interview.

A takeoff on calendars of firefighters and returned U.S. servicemen, Hardy’s project debuted with a 2008 calendar featuring 12 returned church missionaries in mostly modest poses, minus their trademark white shirts, ties and black plastic name badges. It has sold nearly 10,000 copies.

“You see more in a JCPenney catalog,” said Hardy, 31, who once worked for Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller and now has his own entertainment company. “I just feel like my right to free speech is being violated.”

The calendar was designed to shake up Mormon stereotypes, Hardy said. The pages include photos of the men dressed in standard missionary garb. In biographical sketches each missionary talks about his beliefs.

“It’s not tearing anybody down,” Hardy said. “I wondered what would happen if we took that perfect Disneyland image that the church spends millions of dollars cultivating each year and shook it up a little bit.”

Davie on Friday confirmed sending the letter and the plans for the meeting. He said the calendar was the primary concern.

“I prefer not to say anything else about it,” he said. “There is more involved, and he and I will have our meeting.”

The outcome of a council meeting could include excommunication, probation “or exoneration,” Davie said.

A returned missionary himself, Hardy acknowledged he has not been an active member of the church since 2002. He said he’s never been contacted by anyone from the church encouraging his return to the fold and he suspects the current inquiry was driven by the church’s Salt Lake City headquarters.

“I’m still a good Mormon boy in many ways,” said Hardy, who says he bears no animosity toward Latter-day Saints, but never felt he fit in. “I still want to hold onto my heritage.”

Blog entries on the social networking sites MySpace and Facebook show a range of reactions to Hardy’s work. Some find it offensive and say it degrades the church by displaying missionaries as sex symbols, and that it contradicts church teachings about modest dress for all members.

Others praise the effort for rattling perceptions that Mormons are “stuffy.” Some who identified themselves as younger Mormons said the calendar might make it easier for their non-Mormon friends to consider exploring the faith.

“It has created an interfaith dialogue,” Hardy said. “People of all faiths have logged on and shared what they believe. They’re talking about what’s really important, not how bad it is that you took your shirt off.”

Some of the missionaries in the calendar, many of whom were recruited by Hardy’s friends at church events, have been asked by their church leaders about the project, but none has faced disciplinary action, Hardy said.

“The biggest concern was, whether this was an attack on the church, and when they determined it wasn’t, it was no big deal,” said model Jonathan Martin, a 25-year-old Utah Valley University student who was contacted by a church elder in May. “When you don something outside of the norm, it doesn’t matter what group of people you’re in, it’s going to unsettle them.”

Martin said he was told the inquiry was being made after a letter was sent to his church leader by higher-ups in Salt Lake City.

The Mormon church takes disciplinary action when leaders believe a person’s behavior or actions are openly incompatible with the faith’s teachings and could damage the church.

Church spokeswoman Kim Farah declined to comment on Hardy’s specific situation, but said that “any church discipline is the result of actions not beliefs.” Decisions are made at the local level and are based on individual circumstances and merits, she said.

“Because the fundamental purpose of church discipline has always been to help members, rather than simply punish, disciplinary councils are considered a necessary step in repentance on the way back to full harmony and fellowship in the church,” she said.

Members have been excommunicated for reasons including criminal activity and scholarly works of history or theology that contradicted church claims.

An excommunicated person would be removed from official church rolls, although he or she would still be welcome at church services. Excommunicated members are prohibited from receiving the sacrament and can’t perform church callings such as teaching or preaching during meetings. They also cannot enter church temples.

The 2009 calendar — which drew 100 inquiries from interested missionaries — will be released in September.

A few weeks ago, I posted a video of one of my favorite show choir performances. It was North Central High School (Indianapolis) show choir’s “Like A Prayer.” I am not a Madonna fan, but I love the exciting rhythm and melody of that particular song. When I first saw this show choir perform this number, costumed in monk’s robes with fantastic choreography by a Ball State University Singers’ friend, Brent Holland, I was thrilled. I found it to be very creative, energetic, and fun.

So, I posted the video on here.

A day or so later I received a comment from a lady whom I do not even know. She blasted the video out of the water – it was sacrilegious. Had the message come from a family member or friend, I may have let it slide, but since this was an unknown, uninvited individual, in my typical, sharp tongued response, I responded. The following day she wrote, “I hope you burn in hell.”

Well, I guess she will only know her wish has come true once she checks me off the list when I arrive.

Last week, while walking through Chicago, we were waiting on a corner stop light to change, and a car cut in front of another car, upsetting the driver who was cut off. The woman who was cut off began screaming obscenities out her window, flipping off the offender, and as she pulled away on the back of her car was the metallic “fish symbol” and a bumper sticker that read, “God is my co-pilot.” There was also another bumper sticker with the name and address of what I am assuming was where she attended church. In the back seat, were three children, one in an infant seat.

So where does one begin to comment on such an observation?

Well, my first thought was, “If God is your co-pilot, was he crawling under the dash from embarrassment?” After all, she had strung together a line of profanity that would have made the nastiest sailor blush.

Oh, and why is it only people can “cuss like a sailor”? I have known several air force friends here in Dayton who cuss, but we never say, “he cusses like an air force captain!” Or if you ever knew my neighbor in Elwood (Nick), who, with a pipe clenched between his teeth could mutter a string to make George Carlin (RIP) proud…

Last Tuesday, my good friend, Christi, and I were chatting after her children’s lessons. I met Christi and her family when I was director of music at Normandy United Methodist Church in 1996. Christi was not in the music program itself, but I directed her husband and children in several shows.

Christi is not at all about making physical impressions, but you can believe she will make an inspiring impression.

Christi would never go on to someone’s blog and write rude, distasteful comments concerning something with which she disagreed. In fact, she would find something positive to say.

I have many friends of many religious faiths – Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Latter Day Saints, Christian Science, and Baha’i. I have several wonderful friends who belong to no religious order, yet they possess all the wonderful qualities of those who do practice organized religion.

Tuesday evening, we were discussing how some individuals claim Christianity, but yet, are some of the most cruel hearted, and vicious people out there. Christi said, rather matter of fact, but with a degree of true sadness, “Sometimes, Christians can be some of the meanest people…”

I have seen this over and over.

I once was director of music at a church where the pastoral staff was involved in inappropriate behaviors of all natures – sexual affairs, lying, manipulative, shifting of funds, and other pathetic behaviors that were far from Christ-like behaviors – or appropriate behaviors in general. Yet, church councils, and a majority of the parishioners simply turned their heads to the inappropriate behaviors.

I can remember growing up in church and observing people during church. Since our family frequently joined other church families for various gatherings, I also observed an entirely different side – one that was disturbing.

At age 12, I chose not to join the Methodist church through confirmation. One Sunday morning, we arrived at church later than usual, and the congregation was in an uproar. The evening before, Carol Burnette and Company had an episode with “Eunice & Mamma” and our congregation believed Ms. Burnette’s program was making fun of religion. We had watched it, and I remember my grandmother stating she saw nothing wrong with the episode. The gentleman in front of us said that his family would never watch the Carol Burnette Show ever again. I turned and asked if we could still watch the program, and the gentleman turned and commanded, “You better not!”


I sat there, stewing. I was furious that someone else told me I could not do something. Mother, and my grandparents – who were a also a tremendous influence in my life – not only provided, but encouraged me to adopt a strong sense of studying my options, or choices. Never would they have said, “You cannot watch Carol Burnette!” Never did they say, “You should not listen to your 8-Track tape of Jesus Christ, Superstar or Godspell.” And when I played the roles of Jesus and Joseph, I don’t believe anyone was offended, and in some ways, those productions could be considered blasphemous.

When it came time to go to confirmation that night, my grandfather, who could have gotten very sour over my decision to not continue with confirmation, asked why. I explained my reasons. Rather than getting all pissy, as he could so easily do, he smiled and said, “I understand completely. I only ask this – if you never ever decide to join a church as a member, or even attend church, I do hope you will always walk with God.”

And 32 years later, I am still walking with God. I cannot buy into any particular doctrine, especially when certain religions believe their way is the only way. In college, I heard campus ministers claim, over and over, that if you did not believe in Christ you would burn in hell. I never heard any of my Buddhist, or Jewish friends say, “If you don’t believe in our God, you will be consumed by the flames of hell.”

About two years ago, I was asked to give a sermon on Lincoln since that particular Sunday fell on President Lincoln’s birthday. The whole point was, “Was Lincoln a Christian?” In all the evidence on Lincoln, it is generally believed he did not buy into any particular religion, and stated that he would join the church with the words carved over the altar, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy mind, heart, soul and strength.” My final conclusion was that Lincoln “may not have been a technical Christian,” as indicated by his wife, but rather, “Lincoln was most certainly Christ-like.” (And I am still grateful to my friend, Jeff Carter for guiding me to that conclusion!)

Disciple means “to teach.” A derivative is “discipline.” We discuss this in the pre-adoptive training classes when I teach the discipline unit. When I think of Christ, I think of this tremendous human being who brought light into the dark lives of many. Where the Old Testament seemed to promote so many “don’t’s” – Christ was all about the “do’s” in life – do love one another, do love God, do help one another, do help those less fortunate…”  If there were any “dont’s” in his message it was “don’t discriminate.”

Christi punched this particular item around last Tuesday. Christ did not discriminate. The fellow loved everyone. He dined with those who were ostracized by political or religious establishments, he touched those others abandoned, and there did not seem to be any one not worthy of receiving his love and attention. Christ was not mean. Even when persecuted, he was still loving and forgiving.

We attended one church, and although I do not buy into the doctrine, I do love the familiar hymns, the sense of community, and the values that help support what I teach my own sons. My youngest son is at the age where some teenagers question – which is fine. In our house, if you question something, you must seek answers, or research your question. You must support your reasons for questioning. However, we both agreed that we wanted to take a sabbatical from organized religion. He belongs to a wonderful youth group that is all about spirituality, not doctrine, and he is expressly interested in this component – as am I.

Our decision happened to fall when we were incredibly busy with percussion ensemble season, show choir contests, and my own illness. For a while, people from church would send emails stating they missed us. Then the emails changed to “where are you?” There are a few who will send messages, or jokes, but for the most part, we have been written off. One person, with whom I continued to send jokes, responded a few weeks ago with “since you cannot come to church please don’t send me any future emails.”


I did not entertain that email as “mean,” but it did open up some other avenues for thought. It seemed to touch upon a sense of possessiveness I had not really observed before, but now looking back, all the churches with which I have been involved have had an air of possessiveness. The goal seems to be on building membership, tithing and apportionment’s for the denominational hierarchy, and claiming lost sheep in the name of Christ. When my childhood church was irked over Carol Burnette, there was even a possessive mind set of controlling what we watched on television. When in college, I received a letter from my home church stating I should sign a petition and avoid seeing The Last Temptation of Christ. When I did not respond, I received a telephone call in my dorm room – from the same person who told me I was not to watch Carol Burnette! For those who know me well, imagine my reaction!

I saw The Last Temptation of Christ. What is more, I saw it with the pastor of the Lutheran Church where I was director of music! He and I both agreed it was art, and that should a person be shaken in their faith from seeing the movie, their faith may not have been on the right track.

Later when I saw the gentleman from church, I told him of my experience watching the movie I was to boycott… he shook his head and walked away. Nearly twenty years later, he was still avoiding me at my grandfather’s funeral.

I had one Christian friend who admonished me because I allow my son to watch Family Guy!

Hell, I watch it, too. This same friend loves The Simpsons – though milder than Family Guy, it still contains some eye openers. I assured my friend that before I watched Family Guy, I never missed a program with Jimmy Swaggart… she had nothing else to say.  Of course, this same person indicated I could not be a good Christian because I supported Hilary Clinton for the Democratic candidate for president.

I don’t consider this particular person “mean,” just misguided by her religious instruction – but not her faith.

I also had a friend shame me because I like Rosie O’Donnell. I was coached that I should not like her because she is Lesbian, and because she is so outspoken.

Lesbian? Wasn’t Danny Thomas one? [insert chuckle, here].

And outspoken?

A lot of people are… Rev. Jesse Jackson is outspoken – and wasn’t he a bit un-Christian this week with his comments about Obama??? Isn’t JJ a Christian? Rev. Al Sharpton is outspoken. But this friend could not believe I supported Rosie!

Well, Rosie adopts kids, I adopt kids. Rosie is big with adoption, I am big with adoption. Rosie does a lot of great things that do not receive press recognition. Good for her! Now, this friend who does not like Rosie is always certain her works for the hungry/homeless, her contributions at church, her contributions at her children’s school always receives recognition. In programs for Victoria, Schuster Center, or other area arts related products, her name is always listed as a contributer. Rosie receives recognition, too, but there are a number of things she does that go unnoticed.


Besides… who I prefer as politicians, or celebrities is still my choice, and well, my business.

What I shared with Christi the other evening was my growing concern for this “shoot to kill” attitude with some Christians. If a person is not Christian, they are often considered “evil.” In this current election, religion played way too much a part of the concerns. I truly do not care the denomination to which a politician belongs. Throughout our history, we have had a variety of denominations living in the White House, or serving in other arenas in our government. And I am sure we have had leaders claiming a denomination without even practicing.

In 1960, my great-grandfather changed his political affiliation because the Democratic party nominated a Catholic! Was my great-grandfather mean? Hell no! Virgil Barmes was one of the most loving, adorable people in the world. During the Depression, he worked for a granary that was owned by a Catholic, and the owner was firing non-Catholics to hire fellow Catholics.

For me, what is important is that the individual has some sort of spiritual base, or center. Many are hopping on the band wagon regarding Obama’s current or past religious affiliations. If it was true that he did not use a Christian Bible while being sworn in, why does it matter? When a person is being sworn in to political office, they are taking an oath to uphold our constitution – federal, state, county, community.

Besides, how many politicians have placed their hand on The Bible, and turned out to be some of the biggest liars and crooks in public office?

There was one Republican candidate I really liked – Mit Romney, I believe – who was a member of The Latter Day Saints (Mormons). I cannot begin to tell you how many friends commented on his religious affiliation. When I asked about his politics, very few could tell me any more about him. They were so focused on the fact that he was Mormon! I found this more disturbing than sad.

Christi’s comment just seemed to hang with me these past few days, and I simply jotted down some of my thoughts, experiences and observations. I am sure my comments on this page will be crucified by some as blasphemous, condemning me to hell, etc.. That’s fine. But I bet I will be able to tell to which faith they belong!

I believe, even more, in my theory of “The God Wheel.” I always think of a bicycle wheel… God is the hub and God is directly connected to use via the spokes. However, we are connected to one another by the rim which also connects us all back to the God source! Before some swing a cross, I am not saying we are God, but I do believe – my personal belief – that we are all a part of God and God is a part of us – an interconnectedness!

God isn’t my co-pilot. God drives through me.

I am sure if the lady who was so alarmed by my video posting of the show choir reads this post, she will have a priest perform an exorcism!

Checks And Balances

Most of us have probably come across the universal wisdom that the people who irritate us the most are expressing qualities that we ourselves have. This is why family members can be so vexing for so many of us—we see ourselves in them, and vice versa. This isn’t always true, of course, but when it is, it’s a real opportunity for growth if we can acknowledge it, because it is infinitely easier to change ourselves than it is to try to change another person, which is never a good idea. For example, if we have a coworker who engages in some kind of negative behavior, like complaining or trying to control everything, we can look and see if we ourselves carry those traits.

We may have to look to other situations in our lives to see it, because we behave differently in different environments. Perhaps we don’t complain at work, because our coworker overdoes it, but maybe we do it with our friends. Maybe we aren’t controlling at the office, but we’re used to being in control at home, and this is why we feel so irritated not to be in control at work. Even if we look and find that we are not engaging in the same behavior that we see as negative in others, we can still learn from what we are seeing in this person. The truth is, human nature is universal, and we share many of the same tendencies. What we see in others can always help us to understand ourselves more deeply.

Having the ability to see something in another person, and automatically bring this observation back to ourselves, is like having a built-in system of checks and balances that enables us to be continually engaged in self-exploration and behavior change. When we see behavior we don’t like, we can make a concerted effort to weed it out of ourselves, and when we see behavior we do like, we can let it inspire us to engage in imitation. Through this process, we read our environment and let it influence us to bring out the best in ourselves.

When We Don’t Take Action

Life is sculpted on a moment-to-moment basis. Every one of the thoughts we think, the words we speak, and the actions we take contributes to the complex quality and character of the universe’s unfolding. It simply is not possible to be alive without making an impact on the world that surrounds us. Every action taken affects the whole as greatly as every action not taken. And when it comes to making the world a better place, what we choose not to do can be just as important as what we choose to do.

For example, when we neglect to recycle, speak up, vote, or help somebody in immediate need, we are denying ourselves the opportunity to be an agent for positive change. Instead, we are enabling a particular course to continue unchallenged, picking up speed even at it goes along. By holding the belief that our actions don’t make much of a difference, we may find that we often tend to forego opportunities for involvement. Alternatively, if we see ourselves as important participants in an ever-evolving world, we may feel more inspired to contribute our unique perspective and gifts to a situation.

It is wise to be somewhat selective about how and where we are using our energy in order to keep ourselves from becoming scattered. Not every cause or action is appropriate for every person. When a situation catches our attention, however, and speaks to our heart, it is important that we honor our impulse to help and take the action that feels right for us. It may be offering a kind word to a friend, giving resources to people in need, or just taking responsibility for our own behavior. By doing what we can, when we can, we add positive energy to our world. And sometimes, it may be our one contribution that makes all the difference.

Prayer And Meditation

Prayer and meditation are similar practices in that they both offer us a connection to the divine, but they also differ from one another in significant ways. Put simply, prayer is when we ask the universe for something, and meditation is when we listen. When we pray, we use language to express our innermost thoughts and feelings to a higher power. Sometimes, we plumb the depths within ourselves and allow whatever comes to the surface to flow out in our prayer. At other times, we pray words that were written by someone else but that express what we want to say. Prayer is reaching out to the universe with questions, pleas for help, gratitude, and praise.

Meditation, on the other hand, has a silent quality that honors the art of receptivity. When we meditate, we cease movement and allow the activity of our minds and hearts to go on without us in a sense. Eventually, we fall into a deep silence, a place that underlies all the noise and fray of daily human existence. In this place, it becomes possible for us to hear the universe as it speaks for itself, responds to our questions, or sits with us in its silent way.

Both prayer and meditation are indispensable tools for navigating our relationship with the universe and with ourselves. They are also natural complements to one another, and one makes way for the other just as the crest of a wave gives way to its hollow. If we tend to do only one or the other, prayer or meditation, we may find that we are out of balance, and we might benefit from exploring the missing form of communication. There are times when we need to reach out and express ourselves, fully exorcising our insides, and times when we are empty, ready to rest in quiet receiving. When we allow ourselves to do both, we begin to have a true conversation with the universe.

By Joe Lanane

ELWOOD — Becoming an Olympic athlete requires years of dedication and training, and 15-year-old Mary Beth Dunnichay of Elwood is no exception. After six years of strenuous effort, she will officially realize her dream in Beijing this August as a member of the United States Diving Team.

The call from her coach came at approximately 11 a.m. Monday, about an hour later than the final decision was anticipated. Mary Beth’s mother, Marian Dunnichay, said her daughter was in good spirits leading up to the announcement despite the elongated response time, but the enormity of the situation is yet to fully take effect.

“We knew we did everything we could,” Mary Beth said regarding last week’s Olympic Team Selection Camp in Knoxville, Tenn., where she helped seal her fate as a member of the synchronized women’s platform diving duo. “It’s amazing — still hard to believe.”

Mary Beth and partner Haley Ishimatsu rallied from down 23 points heading into Friday’s fourth and final round of competition to capture an 11-point advantage over the next pair.

Her brother, Caleb, dives at the collegiate level at the University of Notre Dame after recently transferring from Auburn University. In superstitious fashion, he waited outside the facility in Knoxville before finding out his sister’s 346.98 score on Friday.

“I knew (she made the Olympics team) when they told me the score — that score was huge,” Caleb said. “They could win a medal if they do that again.”

The win capped two years’ worth of success for her and Ishimatsu, both of whom have also competed internationally together at the World Championships in Australia two years ago and at the World Cup in Beijing last March.

Their efforts helped ensure an Olympic spot for the U.S. team in the event, and ultimately helped land Mary Beth and Ishimatsu as the two divers to fill that void. Despite the excitement of the situation, Mary Beth said she is careful to not settle for simply making the summer games.

“It’s always been what we’ve been working for, but it’s not over yet,” Mary Beth said, insisting the challenge has just begun. “We have to go back and start to train even harder because to get a medal at the Olympics is going to take a lot.”

Still, Mary Beth said her family has always been supportive regardless of her success. Even before the official announcement, she was greeted upon her return from Tennessee on Friday with fireworks outside her house.

“The whole neighborhood was waiting in the driveway when (Mary Beth) pulled in,” Marian Dunnichay said before putting the accomplishment in perspective. “It’s hard to believe she can’t drive a car yet, but she’s going to go to the Olympics.”

The celebration culminated years of effort from not only Mary Beth, but also for the family and friends who have helped her along the way. Her sister, Danielle, attends IUPUI and frequently housed Mary Beth at her Indianapolis apartment between practices. Also, her brother Jacob serves as one of her strongest support beams at home as he prepares to enter his senior year at Elwood High School.

“She’s really been wanting it forever, and all the drives down (to Indianapolis) and staying at my apartment have really paid off,” Danielle said. “I used to go over and watch her in between classes and go pick her up … but we’re real close and I wouldn’t miss a meet for anything.”

Mary Beth’s father, Ned, said Marian has been instrumental to his youngest daughter’s success while he’s running the Dunnichay Funeral Home in Elwood. He is also Madison County coroner.

“Since I’m trying to work and take care of the business, I rely on my wife to take care of a lot,” Ned said. “We have a good family nucleus, and we all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Mary Beth will travel to Pasadena, Calif., on July 23 for the final national competition — which is still undetermined if she will compete — before departing for Beijing on July 30. The Olympics synchronized women’s platform diving competition is expected to take place Aug. 12.

Road to the Olympics timeline:

July 9-22: Daily training resumes in Indianapolis

July 23: Depart for U.S. Nationals in Pasadena, Calif.

July 28: Travel to San Jose, Calif., for Olympics processing

July 30: Depart for Beijing, China

Aug. 8: Summer Olympics opening ceremony

Aug. 10-23: U.S. Diving competition commences

Aug. 24: Closing ceremonies

By Joe Lanane
ELWOOD — There is only one moment in town history that Elwood resident Dave Berkemeier can liken to Mary Beth Dunnichay’s Olympics entry announced on Monday. Overall, he said, this marks the most historic point for the community since Wendell Willkie announced on Aug. 17, 1940, in his hometown of Elwood, that he would accept the Republican presidential nomination.

“This has to be up there with that,” Berkemeier said, calling this a “red-banner year for Elwood” after Dunnichay’s success and the high school’s recent 2A state runner-up performance in baseball. “Just thinking about (having an Elwood resident in the Olympics) gives me goose bumps.”

While Willkie eventually lost to two-term incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt later that year, Elwood residents hope for a more favorable outcome for Dunnichay.

Regardless of outcome, however, Elwood Mayor Merrill Taylor said there is a great deal of town pride to be had for the 15-year-old standout who still calls him “Papa.”

“I remember when Mary Beth was just a baby, and she’s just been something kind of special ever since she was born,” Taylor said. “For her to mature into the young lady she is and go on into the type of fame she’s going to have in her life, Elwood needs to be very, very, very proud of this young lady.”

It did not take long for word to spread throughout the 9,700 residents of Elwood.

Friendly’s Restaurant, 2115 Main St., has been the breakfast getaway every Sunday for Mary Beth and the Dunnichay family after church services. Megan Coubert, server at Friendly’s for 12 years, said she has seen Dunnichay grow up before her very eyes each week.

“We’ve been telling everybody that comes in (about the news) — everyone’s really excited,” Coubert said. “The whole town pulled behind the baseball team, and I imagine the same will happen for (Dunnichay).”

The Olympics fever is already catching on in Elwood, as banners, yard signs and even hula hoops in the form of the Olympics rings have graced the community. Berkemeier said he also hopes to have the window of his Edward Jones Investments’ office painted with red, white and blue before too long.

“We need to tell everyone 1,000 miles outside of here on each side that she’s from Elwood,” Berkemeier said.

Call-Leader Sports Editor
Oh baby! Their baby is going to the Olympics.

Like expectant parents, Ned and Marian Dunnichay waited and waited, then waited some more, this morning to learn if their youngest child, 15-year-old Mary Beth, had been selected for the United States Olympic Diving Team.

“Yes, it is like having a baby, only worse,” Marian said while awaiting an email from USA Diving officials. “With a baby, you’re sure of the outcome, a boy or a girl.”
They learned the outcome shortly after 11 this morning when the email arrived just as Mary Beth received a call from her coach, John Wingfield.
Even Wingfield, also chosen as the head coach of the U.S. team for the Beijing Olympics, teased her for a moment before sharing the good news.
“He called me and he said, ‘Have you heard anything yet?’,” said Mary Beth.
“I said, ‘Not yet, but I’ve been sitting by the computer.’
“So he said, “OK, well I’ll send you the email that I got.’
“He just sounded normal, and I was like, ‘Well, is it bad or good; give me a hint.
“And he goes, ‘Well, what do you want me to say?’
“And I was like, ‘Uh oh…’
“And then he just said, ‘You’re an Olympian,’ and I started crying.”
Her family members and friends heard her cry in the hallway outside the office where they were awaiting the news, and not knowing if they were tears of joy or disappointment, rushed to her side.
At that moment, older brother Caleb and her father saw the email on the computer screen.
“There it is. There it is,” said Ned. “She made it; she made the team.”
Dunnichay and fellow 15-year-old Haley Ishimatsu will represent the U.S. as the women’s 10-meter platform synchronized team in Beijing.
The Olympics run from Aug. 8-24. The diving competition will be from Aug. 10-23.
Dunnichay and Ishimatsu will compete Saturday, Aug. 12, probably in front of 30 or more family members and friends who are making plans to join her in Beijing.
Mary Beth is the first Olympian from Elwood, and quite possibly from all of Madison County.
“I got chills, lots of chills when I saw that (email),” said her father.
“We’re crying, we’re laughing, everything,” said her mother. “Mary Beth has put in so much hard work, sacrificed the nights when she couldn’t go do stuff with her friends, having to get up early for practice, and miss (her brother’s) ballgames. She’s had to sacrifice so many things.
Everyone of them was worth it, said the 5-foot Olympian, who won’t turn 16 until Feb. 25, 2009.
“This is just awesome,” Mary Beth said after drying the tears. “But it was so stressful waiting for that (email and call) this morning.
“My mom wanted me to get up early and come (to the Dunnichay Funeral Home) early, but I didn’t want to get here too early and just have to sit around and wait. I wanted to sleep in to the last minute possible.”
She got there shortly before 10 a.m., because that’s when the family expected the email to arrive.
At about 10:15, they got in touch by phone with Wingfield, who told them the announcement wouldn’t come until 11.
Some of the family went out for breakfast, then returned to wait some more.
“When they pushed it back, it meant just a longer wait,” said Mary Beth. Something akin to her and Ishimatsu standing on the platform for 45 minutes last Wednesday while computer problems delayed the competition at selection camp in Knoxville, Tenn.
That’s the night the Olympians went 1-2 against their top competition for the Beijing spots, Laura Wilkinson and Jessica Livingston.
But in Friday’s final competition, Dunnichay and Ishimatsu hit their five dives for an all-time best of 346.98, beating Wilkinson and Livingston’s 335.34.
That 2-2 deadlock after four lists left it up to the selectors to decide the Olympic synchro team.
“We knew it could have gone the other way (the decision),” said Mary Beth. “The first day, they won the two out of the three, so we had one more chance on Friday.
“We had one more chance to prove that we not only could dive under pressure, but that we deserved our spot. And we went in there and stayed calm and confident and we proved to everyone, I guess.”
The family didn’t have any doubts, but they were doing everything they could to avoid jinxing the outcome until this morning.
“For everything my family has been through with me, taking me to practice everyday, going to my competitions, just always being there, it’s finally paying off. Like I said, it’s just awesome.”
She gets today and Tuesday off, then it’s back in the pool Wednesday at the IU Natatorium.
Before the Olympics, the divers may compete in the U.S. Nationals July 22-27 in Pasadena, Calif.
“We haven’t talked about that yet, so I don’t know yet,” said Dunnichay.
She does know where she and her family and friends will be tonight at 7. On an Elwood fire truck for a parade through town, starting at the high school.
City officials are encouraging residents to gather at the high school before 7 to form a caravan behind the fire truck, or for residents to line Anderson Street to the south edge of the city to celebrate with the Dunnichays, whose baby is going to the Olympics.

I tripped across this new site from a Google Alert on the Wright Brothers… some really neat stuff on this site.

From the site…

Your Thoughts Are The Blueprint of What You Experience in Life
Some call this the law of attraction; others call it the matrix. In quantum physics it is called the collapse of a superposition. It is the moment when you have a thought or you make a decision! Movies like “What the #$*! Do We (K)now!?” and “The Secret” finally bringing this knowledge into the mainstream.

Creating reality with your thoughts is a fundamental ability of your consciousness. You are born with it, however it is not part of our education yet. Statistics on rich and successful people show that simply shifting their thinking was the major key responsible in changing their lives.

Manifesting your dreams does not depend on your education, on your ethnicity or heritage, and in no way is it determined by your environment. It is only the result of how and what you think!

For more information, check out this page:

This afternoon, I watched a DVD about The Duke of Windsor, followed by one of my favorite books/movies, All The President’s Men.  What an incredible movie, and book. Woodward and Bernstein are two of my favorite writers. The movie is packed with great stars – aside from Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford – there’s Polly Holliday, Jason Robards, Hal Holbrook, Jane Alexander (while she was also filming her role as Eleanor Roosevelt), Merideth Baxter, Ned Beatty, Stephen Collins, F. Murray Abraham, and others… wow! What a fantastic movie.

May 31st, 2005, I can remember the breaking news coming across my computer and television… “Deep Throat is revealed…”  Mark Felt, former assistant director of the FBI, admitted to being the mystery man known as “Deep Throat.” There had been speculation, but Felt always denied it.

The story below is amazing….


Published: June 5, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO, June 4 – Nicholas T. Jones (left) and Jarett A. Nixon (right), law school classmates have met at an intersection of history.

They have practiced speaking Spanish together, and at one point last year, Mr. Nixon, 28, tried to recruit Mr. Jones, 23, to work on a law journal at the school, the Hastings College of the Law.”

He’s a good guy,” Mr. Nixon said of Mr. Jones. “We’ve had a friendly relationship.”

What neither man knew until the identity of Deep Throat was revealed this week, however, was that they come from opposite sides of one of the most profound divides in modern American political history.

Mr. Nixon’s great-uncle, whom he recalls fondly as Uncle Dick, was President Richard M. Nixon, a relationship he had never shared with Mr. Jones. His grandfather, Donald Nixon, was the president’s brother.

Mr. Jones’s grandfather is W. Mark Felt, the F.B.I. source for The Washington Post who helped bring a premature end to the Nixon presidency. It was Mr. Jones who read a statement on Tuesday on behalf of Mr. Felt outside the family’s home in Santa Rosa, Calif., the first time Mr. Felt publicly acknowledged he was Deep Throat.

“When I found out who it was, it kind of put a smile on my face,” Mr. Nixon said in an interview. “It was like, ‘Hey, wait a minute, I know this guy,’ ” he said of Mr. Jones, “and he’s a good guy.'”

Since the intersection of their family histories came to light, the two men have not had the chance to speak to each other. Classes at Hastings have ended, and Mr. Nixon, who graduated two weeks ago, has been studying around the clock for the bar examination. Mr. Jones has been equally consumed by his grandfather’s newfound fame, politely keeping the news media and curiosity seekers at a distance in Santa Rosa, about 50 miles north of San Francisco.

Separately, though, the two men have also been trying the same difficult balancing act, staunchly defending their opposing family legacies while insisting in interviews that the past would not poison their own relationship.

“What he did was the right thing to do, heroic,” Mr. Jones said of his grandfather, in one of several brief exchanges with reporters. “He’s an honorable guy. He has always been guided by a real strong conscience. We stand behind him and what he did.”

Mr. Nixon, who grew up in Orange County and now lives in San Francisco, said he had been taunted and teased since elementary school about his great-uncle, the only president to resign from office.

But his parents, he said, had taught him and his brother to “look for the good in Uncle Dick,” and the family visited the former president during summer vacations when Jarett Nixon was young. He said he last saw his great-uncle in 1993 at the funeral of Patricia Nixon, the former first lady. President Nixon died in 1994 when Jarett Nixon was in high school.

“I definitely stand by my uncle, and I’m proud of him for all the good things he did with this life,” Mr. Nixon said. “He was able to accomplish a lot more than most people out there.”

Until this week, Mr. Jones said he never made the connection between his law school classmate and the former president, describing it in an interview in his driveway as “kind of fun” and a “cool and interesting factoid.”

“I still see him the same,” he said of Mr. Nixon. “I think he’s a cool guy. He seems like the kind of guy who’s going to be pretty successful in whatever he chooses to do.”

Even with the pivotal role his grandfather played in the Watergate story, Mr. Jones said he was unwilling to criticize President Nixon. He said that this is a time when “almost everyone is jumping to conclusions,” and that he did not want to do the same. “I think it’s folly, quite frankly,” he said.

Similarly, Mr. Nixon refused to pass judgment on Mr. Felt’s role as Deep Throat. He said he would have preferred if Mr. Felt had pursued his concerns about Watergate “through a more legal route,” but he had no interest in joining the debate raging on talk radio and elsewhere as to whether Mr. Felt was a hero or a traitor. He said that he had never heard of Mr. Felt until Tuesday; his family, he said, had always speculated that Deep Throat was one of his great-uncle’s secretaries.

“He made a decision and he went with it,” Mr. Nixon said of Mr. Felt. “I’m not the person to say that was something that was essentially wrong. And God knows, Uncle Dick made his mistakes too.”

Both Mr. Nixon and Mr. Jones said it was perhaps easier for them to step back from their families’ Watergate-era passions because they were generations removed from those events. As a bearer of the former president’s name, Mr. Nixon also said he had long ago learned that it was unfair to make judgments about people based on their family history.

“Everybody is here in the world to make their own way, and be their own person,” Mr. Nixon said. In that regard, he said, “I expect the same from Nick as I do from myself.”

Mr. Jones said he hoped the renewed attention on the Nixon presidency and the role his grandfather played in Watergate would make that period in history more real to Americans of his generation.

“A lot of people my age, a lot of people younger than me, don’t really know what it is all about,” he said. “It is good for us to kind of hear all about this, and learn about it, and get the lessons out of it, get the values.”

One such value, he said, had nothing to do with politics. He said he was immensely proud that as cameras around the world captured his grandfather this week, the scene depicted was the home Mr. Felt, who is 91, shared with his family.

“Our grandfather lives with us, he is happy here, he is close to his family and we get to interact every day,” Mr. Jones said. “We think that is a cool lesson.”

When asked about the connection between Mr. Jones and Mr. Nixon, Amy DerBedrosian, a spokeswoman for Hastings College, said there was a further link. Among the graduates last year was Matthew McGovern-Rowen, the grandson of former Senator George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee.

This morning, I rose late (7:45am) having spent a late night watching DVD’s on the history of New York City. I chatted with Mother and ventured into the front yard to trim, edge the walk, trim the shrubs, and blow away the debris.

Jose is with the neighbors to visit their family in Xenia and fish. I am taking the opportunity to write on the Wright Brothers musical, and watch (as I write) Wallis & Edward, a 2005 British motion picture about the romance between American born Wallis Warfield Simpson and Britain’s King Edward VIII. Edward, the son of King George and Queen Mary, was the uncle of the current queen, Elizabeth II. In 1936, Edward abdicated the throne due to opposition from his ministers that he could not marry Wallis, finally divorced.

Video:  Duke of Windsor reads his 1936 abdication speech in 1968

King Edward, known as “David” to the family, was adored by his two nieces, Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, daughters of The Duke & Duchess of York, the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mum). Despite the adoration of the nieces, Elizabeth of York despised Wallis Simpson.

I can remember mentioning this to my grandfather one night as we were eating at Jim Dandy in Elwood, and he remembered their romance vividly. Grandpa said the newspaper banners read for weeks, “What Will The King Do?” He said that the night of the abdication, the entire family, and neighbors and friends, piled around the radio to listen to King Edward’s speech. I learned later that the rest of the world knew about the romance more than the citizens of Great Britain where the media had been silenced.

After the abdication, Edward left England for France, with the title HRH Duke of Windsor. Even after their marriage the following June, the new king, George VI, Edward’s brother (Queen Elizabeth’s father) refused Wallace the title of HRH, though she was referred to as Duchess of Windsor.

The story following the abdication was just as delicious as the romance leading up to it. One of my favorite books is Royal Feud by Michael Thornton – a fantastic book:

Although they were contemporaries with only six years between them, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and Wallis Warfield were totally unlike in personality and seemed destined to lead very different roles. Elizabeth was the daughter of a Scottish earl and married the Duke of York, second son of King George V. Wallis had emerged from a childhood of financial security in America and had already been through one divorce by the time she met Edward, Prince of Wales, heir to the throne.

The Duchess of York never trusted Wallis, who became Mrs Simpson on her second marriage, and like the rest of the family she resented her for her increasing domination of Prince Edward. He became King in 1936 on the death of George V, but his refusal to give Mrs Simpson up after her second divorce resulted in his abdication and the succession of the Duke of York as George VI.

Edward and Mrs Simpson were made Duke and Duchess of Windsor, but she was denied the style of Royal Highness – something for which she and the Duke always blamed Queen Elizabeth. The latter always refused to receive the Duchess, and when George VI died at a comparatively early age, the widowed Queen Mother referred to her as “the woman who killed my husband’. It was a feud between two determined women which continued until they came face to face in 1967, for the first time in over thirty years.

The first meeting of the Royal Feuders – Elizabeth the Queen Mother and the Windsors. In this photo: (L-R) Prince Phillip, Queen Elizabeth, Duke of Glouchester, Duchess of Glouchester, Duke of Windsor, Duchess of Windsor. This particular cast was gathered for the dedication of a plaque commemorating the centennial of Queen Mary’s birth.

One of my favorite stories: In 1972, the dying HRH Duke of Windsor, living in France, was visited several times by his great-nephew, Prince Charles of Wales. Several weeks before succumbing to stomach cancer, the dying former monarch was visited by his niece, Queen Elizabeth. Doctors and nurses spent hours dressing the Duke so that curtains and clothing would conceal the tubes and machines. The Duke insisted on sitting in a chair to greet The Queen, but was under strict orders to not rise. He agreed. Wallis greeted the Queen, Prince Phillip and Prince Charles on the front steps, bowing to the royals – something she refused to do for Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Upstairs, the doors opened and The Queen entered. HRH The Duke of Windsor rose from his chair, unaided, and bowed to his niece – something reported to have touched Elizabeth greatly – her dying uncle, once The King of England, rose painfully, yet steadily, to acknowledge his monarch.

During this meeting, Queen Elizabeth shared with her beloved uncle that she was granting him permission to be buried in the gardens of Frogmore House, near Windsor Castle, and near his family. This infuriated The Queen Mother who could never let go of her animosity for Wallis.

When The Duke died, The Royal Air Force brought home his remains from France, and some 60,000 people filed past his coffin at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor over two days. The Duke was buried at Frogmore, and The Duchess was invited to stay in a suite at Buckingham Palace, and was appreciative of the many kindnesses shown her by The Queen. During the Trooping of the Colors, Wallis watched The Queen – her niece – pay tribute to The Duke of Windsor.

Wallis watching the Trooping of the Colours from her Buckingham Palace suite.

In 1986, Buckingham Palace put on a low-key ceremony for the Duchess of Windsor, the former Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee for whom King Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry in 1937.

While she had been ostracized by the royal family in life, after her death the duchess’ body was brought back to England by the Royal Air Force for interment beside her husband at Windsor Castle. The funeral was marked by a period of formal royal mourning. In attendance was HRH Diana, Princess of Wales.

He was buried at Frogmore, the private family cemetery at Windsor, but some of the trappings were absent. For example, there was no gun carriage processional, as is planned for Diana funeral.

Once the Wright Brothers’ musical is completed, I would like to finish Love Is Eternal: Abraham & Mary Todd Lincoln, and then consider writing a musical on Wallis & Edward.

One of my favorite artists is Hoosier gal, Sandi Patty. I grew up in not only the Heart Of Hoosierland (Elwood, Indiana) but the Heart of Gaitherland. Although I was exposed heavily to the music of Bill & Gloria Gaither, I was raised on the endearing hymns, many of which were connected to my Methodist roots by the Wesleys, John & Charles.

Here are several of my favorite hymns, performed by Sandi Patty:

How Great Thou Art

Crown Him With Many Crowns & All Hail The Power Of Jesus\’ Name

His Eye Is On The Sparrow

I cannot remember how, or why this melody has been my favorite. It is one of my all time favorite melodies. It was based on an old Welsh hymn, “Hyfrydol” and is known by several titles, one of which is, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.”

In an arrangement by Mack Wilberg, words by Charles Wesley:

Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heaven, to earth come down;
fix in us thy humble dwelling;
all thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation;
enter every trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit
into every troubled breast!
Let us all in thee inherit;
let us find the promised rest.
Take away the love of sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
end of faith, as its beginning,
set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty to deliver,
let us all thy life receive;
suddenly return and never,
nevermore thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray and praise thee without ceasing,
glory in thy perfect love.

Finish, then, thy new creation;
pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee;
changed from glory into glory,
till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise.

I was browsing through the blog of my good friend, Jeffrey Carter, and listened to a recording of COME, THOU FONT, OF EVERY BLESSING. Jeff conducted the Ball State Concert Choir. Here is Jeff’s comments, and the link to the recording.

We closed my last concert with Concert Choir eight months later with Mack Wilberg’s arrangement of Come, thou fount of every blessing. If one can listen past the dyspeptic brass playing, this is great stuff. The men’s sound in the second verse is particularly thrilling, I think.

Come, Thou Font, Of Every Blessing

I have been to Oberlin College twice. In 2002, I traveled through Oberlin on my return trip from visiting the Glenn Curtiss Aviation Museum in Hammonsport, New York. I tried to locate the fountatin dedicated to Katharine Wright Haskell; however, no one seemed to know where it was.

This past March, I drove to Baldwin-Wallace College to watch a premiere of a drama by Jack Winget. En route, I stopped through Oberlin, having researched the fountain’s location. Most of it was covered, but the cherub was clearly visible.

I just received this link to the following article from Betty Gabrielli… neat article about the memorial fountain.

Seventy-six years ago, a marble fountain crowned by a small boy playing with a dolphin first graced the plaza fronting Allen Memorial Art Museum. The bronze figure, a replica of the original by the 15th-century Florentine artist Andrea del Verrocchio, was a small, delicate sculpture, an angel lifting into the air on wings.

The fountain is a kind of love letter to Katharine Wright, the sister and “third member” of the powered-flight team of Wilbur and Orville Wright, from her husband, journalist Henry “Harry” Haskell.

At Oberlin, Katharine was a member of the Class of 1898. Harry, who was two years ahead of her, tutored her in math. They remained friends after graduating, and during the next 30 years, Katharine not only went on to support her brothers, Wilbur and Orville, but she also became the second woman ever elected to the Oberlin’s Board of Trustees. During that time, Harry married and became a journalist, winning two Pulitzer Prizes and eventually editing the Kansas City Star.

In the 1920s, with Harry now a widower, they began a courtship, largely by letters. In 1926, despite the adamant opposition of Orville, who had been Katharine’s constant companion for 14 years after Wilbur’s death, Katharine and Harry married. “They were two Victorian people caught up in a passion that neither understood,” says Harry’s grandson, Harry Haskell. “They were swept off their feet by each other.” But their happiness was short lived. In 1929, while preparing for a European trip, Katharine caught a cold that turned into pneumonia. She died on March 3 at the age of 54.

In 1931, as a tribute to Katharine, a bereft Harry sent 25 crates of hand-cut Italian marble to Oberlin to be assembled as a fountain and inscribed with the words: “To Katharine Wright Haskell 1874-1929.” Installed near the Allen Memorial Art Museum, the fountain quickly became a campus favorite, attracting visitors, students, and bridal parties, but over the years the structure began to deteriorate, and the water flow eventually ceased

That has recently changed. Thanks to the generosity of many donors, including friends and family members, particularly the late Katharine Wright Chaffee ’44 and the Wright Family Foundation in Dayton, Ohio, the fountain has been restored to full working condition by internationally recognized Fairplay Stonecarvers of Oberlin.  

To celebrate its restoration, a public program will be held Friday, September 28 at 1:30 p.m. on the lawn of the art museum, located at 87 North Main Street in Oberlin. Among the speakers will be Judith Haskell Zernich ’72, granddaughter of Henry J. Haskell; Marianne Hudec, grandniece of Wilbur, Orville, and Katharine Wright; James P. Howard, director of principal gifts at Oberlin; Stephanie Wiles, John G.W. Cowles Director of the Allen Memorial Art Museum; and sculptor Nicholas G. Fairplay.

In the event of inclement weather, the program will take place in the museum.

Media Contact:  Betty Gabrielli

A century ago, aviation marvel occurred with flight by Glenn Curtiss

HAMMONDSPORT, N.Y. — On a steamy Fourth of July evening a century ago, a wood-and-fabric biplane lifted off from Stony Brook Farm and stayed airborne for about 1.5 kilometres in a stupendous triumph over gravity witnessed by more than 2,000 people.

It was the first pre-announced public flight in America, the first heavier-than-air flying machine outside Europe to officially remain aloft and under control for a kilometre or more. And it helped elevate pilot Glenn H. Curtiss to national hero status – to the dismay of Orville and Wilbur Wright.

The Wrights’ epochal flight over the dunes at Kitty Hawk, N.C., in 1903 had been cloaked in secrecy. Fearing their ideas would be stolen, the Ohio brothers spent much of the next five years out of the public eye as they tried to lock down patents to secure commercial control over the nascent aerial age. Historians say their first flights were spotted only by five passersby, and before Curtiss made his mark, fewer than 100 Americans had glimpsed the marvel of aviation.

In Europe, by contrast, “people were showing up by the hundreds and even the thousands” to watch pioneers of flying, said Tom Crouch, a Wright brothers biographer and senior curator of aeronautics at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.

Curtiss, a motorcycle builder who set a land speed record of 219 km/h in January 1907, accepted an invitation that summer to supply powerful, lightweight engines to a five-member Aerial Experiment Association led by inventor Alexander Graham Bell.

Within a year, the team invited the Aero Club of America to send representatives to Curtiss’ tiny hometown of Hammondsport in western New York to observe his attempt to fly its insectlike June Bug plane across bucolic Pleasant Valley on Independence Day 1908.

His first try when the overcast skies finally cleared late in the day could have ended in disaster. The June Bug, which was supposed to rise only a few metres, shot more than 60 metres above the crowd before Curtiss cut the eight-cylinder engine and glided back down without causing damage. The tail section had been wrongly angled.

On his second attempt at around 7:30 p.m., the plane with its crackling, smoky engine bobbed unevenly three to six metres above vineyards, potato fields and a racetrack. It flew for 1,551 metres in 1 minute, 42.5 seconds before touching down just short of the village limits.

Crowded on the grassy hillsides, onlookers roared out their delight, honked their horse-and-buggy horns and swarmed down into the fields and adjacent pastures to greet the intense but taciturn aviator.

“This thing was wobbling back and forth and up and down, but it kept going and going and going as everybody got more and more excited,” said Trafford Doherty, director of the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum and grandson of a Curtiss test pilot.

Looking out across the same crop field in Pleasant Valley, with tree-topped ridges on each side and a sliver of Keuka Lake barely visible on the horizon, Doherty noted little has changed about the site that locals hope to have listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

At a picnic and music gala on Saturday, a model club plans to fly a quarter-scale, remote-controlled model of the June Bug above the valley. A full-scale reproduction sits in the nearby Curtiss museum, which is packed with aircraft, motorbikes and memorabilia and draws 30,000 visitors a year.

Soon after the June Bug success, the Wrights went to court to try to keep Curtiss planes off the market in a labyrinthine dispute only set aside with America’s entry into the First World War in 1917.

“I’m well aware of their genius, but I think the Wright brothers also hampered the development of American aviation through patents and court battles,” Doherty said.

Crouch thinks too much is made of the rivalry.

“The Wright brothers may have driven a few small potatoes out of the field, but they certainly didn’t have a big impact on Glenn Curtiss,” Crouch said. “He’s a much better businessman than they are.”

Curtiss racked up dozens of patents for landing gear, ailerons and other innovations still present in aircraft today. He developed the first practical seaplane in 1911 and the flying boat in 1912, earning renown as “the father of naval aviation.” From 1916 to 1918, he turned Buffalo into the airplane manufacturing hub of America.

He rolled out success after success: The first open flying school in the U.S. The first water-cooled engines, to extend air travel. A Curtiss-designed behemoth vanquished the Atlantic in 1919, only stopping on the Azores, 17 days before Britons John Alcock and Arthur Brown made the first non-stop crossing.

“You get told in grade school that the Wright brothers invented the airplane, but it’s a great simplification,” Doherty said. “This was a science that was developing all over the world.”

The Wrights were undeniably first, but others moved the technology forward, he added. “Now, at last, you’re starting to see a more even-handed attitude toward Curtiss.”

Last year, we were standing at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, during a naturalization ceremony… this year, was more personally nostalgic.Jose and I left Chicago this morning at 7:30am, lost an hour through the time change, and my family in Warsaw, Indiana.

Mother, along with my great-aunt, Norma (Grandpa Barmes’ younger sister), and Uncle Jack (Norma’s husband), and my Uncle Danny (he is actually my grandfather’s younger brother – 22 yrs younger, and 9 months older than Mother!) went to lunch, and then paid a nostalgic visit to Dewart Lake – the retirement home of my great-grandfather (Aunt Norma and Uncle Danny’s father). The home was purchased somewhere between 1959-1962. Grandpa Virgil added on to the house, and built a garage, and workshop.

The house is up for sale, and Uncle Danny pounced on it! Within 20 minutes he was discussing the matt! er with the Realtor.

We peaked inside through windows and I took some photos of the original cabinets Grandpa Virgil built. The garage door was open, and there we found even more cabinets!

Uncle Danny, Jose and I walked to the lake and spent some time talking to folks who lived there. The lake, with the island and Grandpa’s pier, was one of the most peaceful, beautiful moments of this trip.

Over in the swamp lived the famed WOOFENWAFUS.

Grandpa Virgil lost two fingers on one hand in an accident with a table saw. To keep all the grandchildren, and later, great-grandchildren from wandering to the lake alone, he created this creature who lived in the lake – the Woofenwafus. Mother said she even use to sit on her hands for fear the creature would chew her fingers off her hands.

One Christmas, when I was about 5 or 6, Grandpa Virgil pulled me on to his lap and told me a hunter had caught the Woofenwafus out of the lake one morning and shot him… the creature died. However, I was assured there wou! ld be mo re baby woofenwafus clamouring out of the nest that following spring… sadly, the creator of the Woofenwafus, known to countless others beyond our family, passed away that September… Grandpa Virgil is no longer with us, but the Woofenwafus lives on in the woods at Uncle Danny & Aunt Bonnie’s farm, and one cousin told me it is sometimes in the trunk of her car when a son wishes to not behave.

Once, my grandfather drove me up to Dewart to go ice fishing with Grandpa Virgil. On the ride up, I was told that Grandpa Virgil was chopping a hole big enough for the boat to fit in… of course, we arrived to the ice house, instead.

So you see, Dewart Lake, to me, is truly Grandpa Virgil. Many gatherings were held here, and many wonderful times.

We left the family and ventured around the lake to Quaker Haven. I knew of the location while growing up, and was re-introduced to the camp in 2005 by Amanda Berlon and her family. Jose and Caleb Berlon went to! camp there for a week, and this was fun for Jose to visit. He took some photos, and eagerly told me of the fun things he had done while at camp… it was finally a break from stories of being with Uncle Destin and Aunt Stacia…

We left Dewart Lake – and for some reason, I believe I will be returning… I arrived thinking of this as sort of a farewell visit as there did not seem any reason to return… however….

We headed north to Syracuse, about 15 miles away, and there I visited one of my most favorite places from my high school and early college years… Smith-Walbridge Drum-Major Camp.

In 1979, I became one of the first freshman drum-majors in the country. Tudy Smith, the nationally known baton instructor was our choreographer at Elwood, and she insisted I attend this camp… and I did.

Four remarkable years as a student, and several as an instructor. Last week, I wrote Gary Smith, the son of the camp’s founder, and he cautioned me that it was run down in appearance… and it is… but still, enough of the camp was still standing.

Twenty-nine years ago on July 7th, I arrived at Smith-Walbridge Camp, and my life changed…

Today was just the best way to end a few fun filled days with Jose, and ending it with family, and wonderful visitations to sites deeply carved into memories from youth….


After leaving Navy Pier, we took the bus to Shedd Acquarium and Science and Industry Museum at the southern end of Grant Park… wow. I forgot just how much I missed this place.

After these visits – including a fantastic 4-D movie in Shedd, we traveled along the lake watching folks set up for the fireworks that evening. Incredile.

We wandered through Grant Park (tons of walking!!!), and then headed to eat at a KFC. We ventured back out to Grant Park and talk about tons of humanity – most of which I did not care to roam into… it was PACKED. The estimate was 1.8 million people to watch the fireworks… 150,000 in downtown Dayton is too many for me, so you can imagine that the wall to wall flesh was disgusting.

While wandering through the park (yes, I could have used the word “strolling” just to amuse you), we came across the USArmy site… Jose was in heaven. The sign-in was quite lengthy, but we had time. They really know how to schmooze! What great recruits…

“Sir, would you like to sign up for information?”

“No, I am 43 years old.”

“Get out of here… you don’t look like you are past your early thirties….”

And it was then my concerns grew…. if young privates are lying to me, can you imagine what it must be like at the Pentagon???

We then ventured on the Army Jazz band performing during Taste of Chicago.

We settled in a nice area on the northeast corner of Grant Park, across from Millenium Park. I decided this would be the best place to watch, and to run when it was over. I figured I would rather have 1.8 million people following me rather than me trailing behind them. The Chicago Symphony was right next to us… delightful evening.




DAY TWO – July 2nd, 2008 – was spent at Six Flags Great America…. WOW!  Started at 10:00am – longest lines were 15 minutes max – except for two – and they were over an hour…. walked on rides…. 

DAY THREE – July 3rd, 2008

Morning – University of Chicago….

Took the commuter train from Mount Prospect into the city… hopped on the above ground train, and took the Green Line train to the University of Chicago.

While waiting for the train, we began chatting with a couple who had just moved to the city… long story short, she is an actress – and she and her fiancee grew up in Dayton… his next door neighbor was Jim & Jerry Lake from North Riverdale Lutheran Church!

We got off at Washington Park, and walked through it, arriving at the UofC hospital where Nathaniel Stevens was born. We walked through the campus – one of my all time favorite campus! es, and saw where my good friend, Rick Donichar, lived while working on his graduate studies. Ironically, Monte Stevens lived in the same area while attending seminary. After he and Chris married, she worked on campus. The Stevens and I realized we had been attending the same churches between 1986-1990!

After that trip down memory lane, we hopped on a bus and headed to the Green Line, and another bus which deposited us at Navy Pier! One of the most beautiful places in Chicago. We ate lunch, walked the pier, and enjoyed our time…




Tuesday morning….Left Dayton, Ohio at 6:30am. Arrived in Fowler, Indiana at 9:30am. Chatted with my sister-in-law, Stacia, for a few minutes, and of course, Parker (Frederick was asleep); packed Jose’s items and we were off toward Chicago by 10:30am. As we were heading to the school we passed Destin – pulled over on the side of the road and chatted for a few minutes.

For the next two hours to the hotel, Jose was animated about all the fun he had with Destin, Stacia, the boys, Stacia’s mom, Norma, and all the work he did while there for three weeks. Had Flyer been with him, I believe Jose could stay there all summer.

We had a terribly easy trip into Chicago, all the way up Route 41, and then on to I-90 – and on to our hotel north of O’Hare in Elk Grove Village. We were checked into our room by 12:30pm (we gained an hour), and I took a nap. We drove over to this lovely little place called Mount Prospect to catch the train into the cit! y – the only way to travel in a large city. The train station is very 1900’s, and across the street was an attorney, named Haas.

Chicago is beautiful, and as you will see, the architecture captured me.

Our first stop was Sears Tower… what an impressive view. I have been up in the World Train Center and Empire State Building but not Sears. Amazing… and a clear, beautiful afternoon.

We hiked further into the city, towards Lake Michigan, stopping to eat at McDonalds.

We walked through half of Grant Park where the Taste of Chicago event was just getting under way…. it was crowded, but the crowds were yet to come!

Millenium Park is a must for any visit to this city… the tall fountains had faces that spit water – but the spitting had ceased while we were there.

The kidney shaped mirror was neat, as was the amphitheatre.

Back through Grant Park, and up to Buckingham Fountain – nothing to do with Queen Liz II and her hou! se – just a wealthy patron. You may recognize this fountain at! the beg inning of the television show, MARRIED WITH CHILDREN.

The Lincoln Museum from Springfield had a trailer with some Lincoln items – no originals… but I had a taste of Lincoln.

The street lights caught Jose’s attention – and once you see the globes, I assume you will understand why.

Then, at the bridge was a column with lights… something struck me but the image was in black and white… and then I remembered seeing a photograph of my grandmother, Donna Clary Barmes, standing on the rail for a photo – when she was visiting her uncle and aunt, Alphie & Clara Jones.

The last photo was of the marquee for JERSEY BOYS where a former student is playing.

Kenneth Jones Playbill On-Line Thu Jul 3, 9:44 AM ET

She was a founding member of Chicago Musical Theatre Works (CMTW), a collective of Windy City musical writers who sought to establish Chicago as a place where musicals were developed. The group’s efforts included public readings of new works. Recently, an offshoot group would meet for critique sessions of their dawning works.
A graduate of Northwestern University, Ms. McKenny was born in Dayton, OH, in 1951, where she attended Alter High School and was a co-founder of Summer Youth Theatre Company (SYTCO). At Northwestern, she earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Oral Interpretation. She liked to say that she majored in “reading aloud,” friends said.

While at Northwestern she wrote her first play, Chautauqua, seen at the university, in a local professional production and at other colleges. At the time of her death she had just completed her first draft of a play about the Greek goddess Psyche.

For 30 years, she collaborated on industrials, plays, musicals and other projects with writing partner and fellow Northwestern University grad Doug Frew, who is now executor of her writing. They shared book and lyric credits and worked with various composers over the years.

For three seasons, Ms. McKenny, Frew and David Roe wrote for Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”

McKenny and Frew’s musical about George Sand, Becoming George, with composer Linda Eisenstein, was chosen for the Pages to Stages development program at the Kennedy Center and premiered in spring 2006 at Metro Stage in Alexandria, VA.

Their musical 90 North, written with composer Daniel Sticco, won ASCAP’s 1997 Outstanding New Musical Award, was nominated for the Sammy Cahn Lyricist Award, and helped launch ASCAP’s “In the Works” new musicals program at the Kennedy Center in 2000 with artistic director Stephen Schwartz.

Her other works include Lady Lovelace’s Objection (with Doug Frew) and a 1920s Chicago-set play, Towertown, completed in 2007.

With Frew and Andrew Hansen, she won the After Dark Award and was nominated for the Joseph Jefferson Award for incidental music and lyrics in She Stoops to Conquer at Northlight Theatre.

In addition to narrative musical theatre works, she wrote standalone songs with many composers, and her songs were sought by Chicago cabaret performers, including Kat Taylor.

In a note that was distributed to members of the group Chicago Cabaret Professionals, Taylor reflected on Ms. McKenny: “She was a writer a story teller, a lyricist, a playwright, songwriter, freelance corporate communications writer, voice over performer, oral interpreter, producer, director, a networking business woman, an organizer extraordinaire with a work ethic astounding to behold. She was the glue that held her many friends and acquaintances together, a true and loyal friend, a loving sister and the best aunt. She was and is an inspiration. And we will miss her.”

Cheri Coons, a Chicago lyricist and librettist, told, “Patti was driven by the idea that, in her words, ‘It takes a village to raise a curtain.’ She was the driving force behind Chicago Musical Theatre Works, and lived to see her dream realized of the first Disney ASCAP Workshop in Chicago, largely because of the efforts of CMTW. She was a true connecter a committed community-builder, a magical writer, and an inspirational friend.”

Ms. McKenny was a co-founder of Studiomedia recording studio, a member of Chautauqua Preservation Society, a member of the Dramatists Guild, and an active member of Chicago Women in Publishing.

She is survived by her brother Don McKenny and his wife Diane, her nieces Trish and Molly and nephew Sam, and a countless extended family of friends across the country. Her parents Donald and Martha McKenny predeceased her.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

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July 2008
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