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RED RIVER VALLEY
 arranged and adapted by Arlo Guthrie


From this valley they say you are going

We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile 

For they say you are taking the sunshine 

That has brightened our pathways awhile

Come and sit by my side, if you love me 

Do not hasten to bid me adieu 

Just remember the Red River Valley 

And the cowboy who loved you so true

I've been thinking a long time, my darling 

Of the sweet words you never would say 

Now, alas, must my fond hopes all vanish 

For they say you are gong away

Do you think of the valley you're leaving 

O how lonely and how dreary it will be 

And do you think of the kind hearts you're breaking 

And the pain you are causing to me

Come and sit by my side, if you love me 

Do not hasten to bid me adieu 

Just remember the Red River Valley 

And the cowboy who loved you so true

They will bury me where you have wandered 

Near the hills where the daffodils grow 

When you're gone from the Red River Valley 

For I can't live without you I know

Come and sit by my side, if you love me 

Do not hasten to bid me adieu 

Just remember the Red River Valley 

And the cowboy who loved you so true
 



 
DONNA MAE CLARY-BARMES
May 8, 1924 - June 27, 1992
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Although I am a passionate historian, I must admit that I was rather lazy in my study of Dayton history. Normally, I am on top of my historical surroundings, and learn as much as possible. However, when I moved to Dayton, Ohio in 1990, I was not at all certain I would remain here more than 3-5 years. I anticipated moving to New York City, or even to Virginia near Williamsburg, or Washington, DC. Perhaps I had an unaddressable fear of learning too much about the Miami Valley for fear of it gluing me here.

Twenty years later, I still feel slightly negligent in knowing Dayton’s history. I seem to know more about the Wright Brothers than I do most of Dayton, and the surrounding area. Still, it was not until the summer of 1999 that I even gave the Wrights a second thought. I had been to the Air Force Museum when my parents visited in 1992, but I found it agonizingly boring. My dad had to stop and read every placard, and photograph nearly every plane. Mother, still with tints of red in her hair at the time, was photographed in front of the plane painted with the title, “Strawberry Bitch.” Each visit to the museum still prompts a photo with a family member standing in front of the plane.

Seven years later I was on my three week vacation that took me to:

  • Niagara Falls (ugh… another story)
  • a drive through the Adirondacks
  • a pass through Schroon Lake
  • Stowe, Vermont to visit the Trapp family members (THE SOUND OF MUSIC) at the Trapp Family Lodge
  • Manchester, Vermont to visit Robert Todd Lincoln’s home, Hildene
  • FDR’s home/grave in Hyde Park, NY
  • Val-Kil, Eleanor Roosevelt’s home & retreat near Hyde Park
  • New York City
  • Flushing Meadows – the site of the 1939 and 1964 World Fairs
  • Teddy Roosevelt’s home, Sagamore Hill
  • Montauk Point Lighthouse at the tip of Long Island
  • Assateague Island to see the wild horses because my fourth grade teacher, Diana Lane, read us the book, THE MYSTERY OF ASSATEAGUE ISLAND in 1974
  • A brief trip through DC – only driving and looking, no stopping
  • A trip across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge & Tunnel
  • A visit with my aunt and cousins
  • The Outer Banks
    • Wright Memorial (merely drove around it and left)
    • Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (which had just finished its hydraulic move the day before)
    • Ocracoke Island
  • A visit with my grandfather and family at Grandpa’s mission program in Southeastern Kentucky
  • Gatlinburg for three days with family
  • Lexington, Kentucky
    • Mary Todd Lincoln
    • Henry Clay home
    • ice cream at Cheapside
    • Lexington Cemetery

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I took advantage of this East Coast vacation, packing as much in as possible. I knew that once I began adopting children, this kind of vacation would be on hiatus.

The memorial at Kitty Hawk meant absolutely nothing to me. I drop past it, only to return since it had a Dayton connection. I took a photo, and drove on not wanting to indulge any time in listening to a (biased) NC park ranger talk about airplanes.

September 1999, while roller blading in Centerville’s Stubbs Park, I was resting on a rock when I noticed a tiny sparrow hopping in the parking lot, picking at some food dropped by patrons from the previous evening’s concert. I had always been terrified of birds growing up, so I had never considered how they got their bodies into the air, supported by seemingly fragile wings.

As I watched the sparrow my eye caught a jet floating through the sky as it prepared to land at Dayton International.

“How did that thing get into the sky?”

As I continued to watch the bird and the plane (no Superman), I heard voices of two young boys arguing. I even turned around, expecting to find two lads arguing.

Nothing.

The voices continued.

Finally I heard the one boy call the name of the other, and there was no doubt as to who they were, and why I was privy to their aggravated conversation.

The next day, I returned from the USA Air Force Museum with nine books on the Wright Brothers. I had received “my mission” while resting in the park.

Prior to that September day, I had never given the Wrights much thought. By April 2000, I was finally sketching out plots, scenes, and characters.

July 2000, I drove to Kitty Hawk, stood on the Wright Brothers’ Memorial and flew a kite to toast the start of what would be a fascinating journey for the next decade.

My goal was to finish the musical, then titled, TWELVE SECONDS TO THE MOON, for the 2003 anniversary.

Gail Whipple - lyricist-composer

In 1998 I got a new saxophone student, Lucas Whipple – a neat 10 year old boy with a wonderful personality. I eventually began teaching his sister, Andra, piano and voice. Their mother, Gail, a fantastic musician (vocalist, pianist) was teaching music at South Dayton Preparatory School and asked if I’d please teach beginning piano there.

In January 2003, Gail and I were chatting about the Muse Machine musical we had just seen. Her husband, Tim, was the Muse board president. Gail and I began discussing musical scores, and she played a few of her own songs that were clearly “musical theatre.” I promptly asked her to assist me with TWELVE SECONDS TO THE MOON, and she agreed.

Leslie Merry, Composer

A month later, I hosted the first read-thru of the book with approximately 20 theatre friends at my town house. Gail attended, and brought her friend, Leslie Merry, introducing her as “a musician friend of mine.”

Within a few days, the trio of Gail, Leslie and Darin were embarking on our collaboration. Other than directing, this was my first collaborative effort, and I did not know what to expect with our first work session. I had tossed out ideas for styles on several songs. Quietly, Gail and Leslie tossed them back, presenting something completely different from what I was hearing… and it was magnificent. Throughout the years, I continued to toss to them what I was hearing in my head, and they provided something different… entirely different, and much more clever, and exciting!

As with any project, it evolved. The history of flight anniversary flew by and we knew that we still had a product. However, the Wrights’ story had changed. Their sister, Katharine, was now an integral part of the story, and it now began five years after they first flew at Kitty Hawk. We had uncovered more drama, and depth to their story – the story after the story with most are most familiar.

The working title soon changed to THE BIRD LET LOOSE, and the underlying theme was about “control.”

  • The secret to flight was in “control”
  • There was an international race to “control” the sky
  • There were battles over financial “control”
  • There were internal issues of “control” within the family circle

It was the right path for this musical.

Now, the 99.5% completed project is a grand mixture of our theatrical forefathers’ creations… there are hints of RAGTIME, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE SECRET GARDEN, EVITA, SUNDAY IN THE PARK, CAMELOT… the musical is dramatic, comedic, filled with suspense, interwoven with political intrigue (well, nothing that would arouse the interest of James Bond, but remember, it is 1908-1945)…

I was blessed to find a lyricist (Gail) who could arrange lyrics as wonderfully as Hammerstein, Lowe, and Rice, and a composer (Leslie) who could immediately whip out a strong melodic line rivaling Rodgers, Lerner and Webber but with a heavy flavor of Sondheim. And the score is, perhaps, more Sondheimesque. The lyrics, in many places, are simply too good to be true due to the clever, concise arrangement of thoughts and words. I would hand Gail a paragraph of thoughts, and she would return lyrics that made my jaw hit the floor. The lyrics and music, together, are outstanding, and I honestly believe their contributions to this project far surpass my work on the book. The three of us, each being musicians, have also contributed to one another’s individual assignments – which has been a splendid delightful process for we each trust one another, and are, too often, like one mind.

I humbly bow to my two collaborators, and will always be grateful for their magnificent contributions to the future success of this musical.

My personal journey with this project began a decade ago. The three of us were also working professionals, raising children, involved musicians, busy volunteers, and confronted with personal, and professional experiences that sometimes kept as from moving ahead on the project consistently. Before Gail’s family moved to California, we had many fantastic work sessions, and reading sessions (about six, in all). Now, Leslie and I will work together, and collaborate with Gail, using all the modern technologies.

What a thrilling journey it has been!

Well, not exactly…

This is the date in 1829 that James Smithson of England died (and not because Germany beat them in the World Cup in 2010).

Here’s the story…

How our country built The Smithsonian Institution

I started my day by teaching two three-hour pre-adoptive classes at A.C.T.I.O.N. Adoption Services from 9:00am-4:00pm.

I ran home, took a nap, and then drove the three of us up to Old River Park near the University of Dayton campus. The one hour canoe ride was warm, but so relaxing – and invigorating! I had a canoe all to myself while Jose and Kelley paddled their own.

What an enjoyable evening.

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As TOY STORY 3 neared its premiere, I chuckled at the Facebook group, started by older teens, “get out of my way little kids… I’ve waited 11 years to see this movie.”

The first two movies were incredible, and I could watch them over and over. I remember taking children of friends to see the movie a number of times so that I could see each release repeatedly. The animation was incredible, and the story plots were entertaining, and captivating – even to a grown kid.

I have to admit that I was ager to see this movie, as well. I grew up in an era where imagination still ruled our play time, and the main toy-technology seemed to be our race car tracks, train tracks, and my portable Snoopy record player. Or was it Pluto?

My favorite toys were King Arthur’s Castle (a huge monstrosity), Johnny West Best of The West dolls (the cowboy version of GI Joe), my Magic Disney Castle (complete with a magnitude of hand-painted characters), my North & South Civil War set, and The White House – a plastic molded structure with 37 statues of presidents (Nixon was president). They required no batteries, no electricity, no television… just my imagination.

The TOY STORY series always delighted me because the main character, the boy Andy, had these incredible toys that were so much like mine… OK, so he did not have the nerdy Civil War or White House sets, but he had the toys that required imagination!

Jose and I went to see TOY STORY 3 Friday afternoon, and I was thoroughly delighted, and moved. Hearing actors Tim Allen and Tom Hanks reunited as Woody and Buzz was music to my ears, as were the talents of Don Rickles, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, Estelle Harris, Laurie Metcalf, Timothy Dalton, and Bonnie Hunt.

The end of the movie is Andy leaving for college. I must admit, I was slightly choked up as mother and son had a few moments together. I remember how difficult it was for my mother when I, the eldest child, left home for Ball State University, and I was always contemplating next June when Jose graduates and leaves for basic training. I soon realized that I was one of the few in the crowded theater not sniffling, blowing his nose, or crying.

As we crossed the parking lot, Jose said, “I am not gonna lie; I was kind of choked up at the end of the movie thinking about having to say ‘good bye’ to you next summer when I leave for training.

As a child, I was never a big fan of ALL IN THE FAMILY. I can remember my grandfather howling at the brash, crass comedy that too often escaped me. The show, even now, seems to exude emptiness, a hollow tunnel where dreams remain dreams, and dead ends. However, the past month or so, I garnered a new appreciation for the show which often airs on TV Land.

The writing was brilliant, and the writers seemed to keep a firm grip on the pulse of 1971-1979. This one particular episode this evening is when Archie Bunker, portrayed by Carrol O’Connor, lost his job and searches for new work. I can remember, all too well, the mid-1970’s when unemployment had sky-rocketed.

The humor is incredible! I could go on, and on about this show, but it would require far more time than I currently have to expel the tons of thoughts I have about this show.

Jose joined me on the deck for some chat and chuckles, and immediately, Flyer was at his feet, and Logan was under his chair. The minute I pulled out the camera, Logan hopped up on Jose’s lap and was ready to pose.

The deck, at 1:15pm this Thursday afternoon, is cool, breezy, and filled with the irregular musical tones of the wind chimes. My lunch is finished, and I am now set to blogging, and working on other projects.

This has been a rather ordinary week here at the Haasienda del Shroyer. Not much to report. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday was filled with lessons, thunderstorms, and various mundane tasks.

Yesterday’s heat and humidity made the day most uncomfortable. By 2:00pm, I had the air conditioning on, and due to the sun’s placement, my study was an oven the entire afternoon. Fans did nothing to alleviate the discomfort.

Most of my spare time has either been napping, from continuous fatigue, to watching a neat series of on-going documentaries, DIGGING FOR THE TRUTH. I love archeology, and any book or documentary that searches all types of history. This show is absolutely fascinating, and I have learned an incredible amount of history that has escaped me, especially the Lost Tribes of Israel! I do not know how I missed this topic all these years. So far I have watched, and enjoyed:

  1. Who Built Egypt’s Pyramids?
  2. Hunt for the Lost Ark
  3. The Iceman Cometh
  4. The Lost Tribe of Israel
  5. Secrets of the Nazca Lines
  6. Mystery of the Anasazi

Here is a video of the episode about The Lost Ark of the Covenant:

Other interests this week have been listening reports, and reading about the controversy between President Obama and General McChrystral. It is difficult to know which news program to watch as I am never certain as to certain affiliations. Oh, how the days of Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather are so far removed from us!

My friend, Bill Hetzer, a retired army brass, did introduce me to war correspondent, Michael Yon, and I am truly enjoying his perspective – non-political!

My gut reaction to this entire affair: the general was wrong. I know it is not a written rule, but militarily, it is the unspoken golden rule involving the chain of command… “thou shalt not publicly speak out against thy commanders.”

Some of the succeeding commentaries from “locals” on DAYTON DAILY NEWS are absurd, and sometimes offensive. I cannot believe the lack of intelligence, and sheer stupidity displayed by some of the readers! It is one thing to be uninformed. It is another to be just downright stupid. Some of the comments are so far-fetched, and it is often tasteless to know some of these people are permitted a driver’s license, and the freedom to walk amongst other human beings.

Quite often, however, I believe some prefer to stir up an excessive amount of drama while hiding behind the fake names.

A growing number of posters are claiming this is the first time in US history where a commander has been relieved of his responsibilities during a time of war… ummm…. wrong…

A number of presidents have traded, or dismissed commanding officers. Lincoln did it a number of times during the Civil War, even dismissing the ever popular George McClellan. President Truman fired another popular general, Douglas MacArthur. President Bush, I believe, changed military leadership once or twice (however, I am not as knowledgeable on this).

If you want a good laugh, an opportunity to groan, or attempting to relieve constipation, scan through some of the comments… they will either leave you howling, scowling or boweling!

I had heard nothing about a proposal for a mosque to be built near Ground Zero, and opened on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. I checked the information out on Google and there were several sites concerning this issue.

I know I should probably have a knee-jerk reaction but I need to read more on it before I truly develop an opinion. Geesh! I am such a Methodist-Libra boy!

This was an interesting video sent by a friend…

http://www.jihadwatch.org/2010/06/pat-condell-on-ground-zero-mosque-is-it-possible-to-be-astonished-but-not-surprised.html

While returning from the Cincinnati Zoo Sunday, Jose and I decided to stop by Solid Rock Church to view the aftermath of the lightning strike, “the lashing out of Zeus” as many have dubbed it. We were not the only ones paying our respects to the charred remains, floating debris (burnt Styrofoam) and steel, skeletal structure rising out of the lake.

Saturday, I spoke with a friend who knew Rev. Bishop personally, and she explained how the Bishop family had personally funded the original $250,000 to build the sculpture, King of Kings, more commonly known as, Touchdown Jesus.

Sunday afternoon, I stood looking at the destruction with no particular emotion. I know there are Facebook fan pages now hurtling demands that the money proposed to rebuild the structure be used for other purposes – charity, mission work. However, I feel some disagreement with this sentiment. The structure was built, and funded by someone who owns the property. Would we wish for someone to come to our door and demand we paint our homes a different color, or change the landscaping of our yards? Heaven knows I would love to tell people with those concrete geese dressed up in bonnets and jackets to take a hike; however, that is their preference, their property, their right – not mine (but they should seriously consider goose therapy!).

And then there is the faction that condemns the Solid Rock Church of showing off their Christianity, paying homage to a graven image, etc.. Again, I have to step back and look at the entire picture.

For centuries, churches have been adorning their sanctuaries with Biblical artwork, even gaudy representations of Jesus, Mother Mary, Moses, and others from the long list of ancients. We have even seen Satin portrayed in artwork. I do believe there is a gigantic statue of Christ in Argentina, or at the tip of some cape in South America, and I have never heard anyone comment on it. In the Sistine Chapel, God and Adam are represented as a center-piece. Now, in its origins, the controversy was over God’s and Adam’s fingers touching – not about the fact that God was portrayed in art.

Again, I return to my thoughts: it is their business.

Last night there was yet, another article on the week old event, describing how the lightning strike has placed the church on the world’s media stage. There were a number of comments following the article, some understanding, others belligerent. Many, who claimed to be solid Christians, were casting more written stones than the elders cautioned by Christ as they prepared to execute an adulterous woman. I was not concerned, in the least, with those casting stones, but it did revive a thought of a popular wrist band: WWJD?

What would Jesus do?

One person wrote that Jesus would be appalled, even furious!

Hmmm… and this person knows this for a fact?

Would Jesus be amused?

Would Jesus just roll his eyes and utter, “Oy vey!”

Would Jesus high-five the Rev. Bishop, and then pose in front of the structure of Himself with three others to spell out, “O-H-I-O”? Or better yet, “H-E-E-B”?

For the life of me, I cannot determine why the venom flows from fellow Christians. Are Christians supposed to be critical of other Christians? And do these critical Christians have Biblical artwork displayed in their churches, or homes?

If they do, I would gently caution them from casting stones, and to gallop their hypocritical holy horse to another Christian corral. Rather than using energy to cast stones at a structure already demolished, why not use this energy to pray?

We could all pray for the Gulf oil crises, the families affected, the wildlife threatened or destroyed, the BP and government leaders making these very difficlut decisions…

We could all pray for our soldiers, and other personnel overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other military stations covering the globe.

We could pray for the economy, and those individuals, and families suffering? We could lend a helping hand to food banks, or other church or community efforts to comfort, feed and clothe the less fortunate.

And I have wondered how many of those bellowing about Solid Rock Church using $750,000 for charity or mission – are they, themselves, doing all they can for mission or charity?

We could pray for our schools, our teachers, our students.

We could pray for our families, our neighbors, our government leaders, those we know, and those we have never met.

We could pray that we, ourselves, are led to live a more Christ-like/God-like, spiritual perspective, and one less perceived by our own spiritual tunnel vision.

We could pray that, instead of casting stones, we could cast lovingly blown kisses of healing, humor, blessings, confidence, fellowship, understanding, peace, and love.

Yes, I found Touchdown Jesus to be gaudy, somewhat pretentious, but terribly amusing. However, I am well aware that to others it may have been a source of inspiration. For those of us who travel northbound from trips, the sight of TDJ indicated that those of us living in the Miami Valley were closer to home – much like the big blue arch is a source of “homeward-bound” for me as I travel to and from my native Hoosier roots. For those who have been touched, or inspired by TDJ, or will be with a newer structure… ENJOY!

For I would not want you telling me to not be moved, or inspired when I stand before historical sites of Lincoln, or the Wright Brothers…

At 9:30am this morning, we were out the door and on our way to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens. With a stop at Dollar General for sun tan lotion and Gator Aide, we were walking into the zoo at 11:00am. En route, we had a great time chatting about a variety of things.

We were slightly disappointed that the gorillas were not as entertaining as they normally are, but with the heat, I was surprised they were even outside their caves. In fact, most of the animals looked as though they were miserable.

What always amazes me, and Jose generally comments on the same thing, is how so many of the animals remind us of our cat and dog, Logan and Flyer. They all seem to have very similar behaviors, movements, reactions, and characteristics. So neat to watch!

There were two sets of monkeys swinging from their fabricated jungle gym, and they were squawking, and bellowing to near ear piercing decibels. Jose and I were howling with laughter because they actually sounded like humans screaming at one another.

Other than tremendous heat wearing us down, there is not too much to report. We left the zoo around 4:00am, and headed back north, enjoying several great conversation topics.

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AM currently watching an incredible documentary, WACO: Rules of Engagement.

Wow! Amazing documentary, full of some deep information.

16 years ago today, I got my cat, Logan. I don’t know why this date has stuck with me, but perhaps it is because Logan was the first pet I acquired as an adult. At first, she was Mr. Logan, named for biggest idol in life, legendary director-producer-playwright, Joshua Logan. However, upon learning that she was, indeed, a female, I simply shortened it to Logan.

She has been a delightful little pal, often traveling with me to Indiana and New York City, going on walks (she has a leash), riding in my backpack as I rode my bicycle, and snuggling with me at night as I read before bedtime. In her early days, she could be seen riding the float with the Centerville Community Band – wearing a little straw hat with red and blue ribbons, straddling my shoulders as we attended Stubbs Park concerts, and sitting in the lap of little Benjamin Gross as he took piano lessons.

One morning I woke to a screeching cry, and jumped out of bed to find Logan dragging her backside down the hall. She was not quite a year, and I feared something had fallen on her, crushing her back end. I threw on sweats and a ball cap, wrapped her in a bath towel, and drove her to the vet who was open to accept early arrivals for surgeries. I explained something had fallen on her, and just then, Logan repeated the painful experience.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Haas, but there is nothing we can do for her.”

I asked if we had to put her down….

“No, Logan is in heat.”

I replaced my ball cap, tucked Logan under my arm, and left the office with all the dignity I could muster.

For the past 16 years, Logan has been a delightful pet, and companion. Age has not slowed her down, and she frequents the neighbors, as well as the nearby Fraze Pavilion when there is a concert. She has sauntered across the stage, several times, during a famous artist’s performance, generally scoping the audience to see if there is anyone she knows. Upon finding a familiar face, or inviting lap, Logan will enjoy the concert, often encouraging those near her to see just how soft her fur is.

Thank you, Logan, for a wonderful 16 years together.

Jose and I just returned from seeing CLASH OF THE TITANS (2010). A very good movie, indeed.

I can remember seeing the original in 1981 when I was a sophomore in high school. I recall very little of that movie, but seemed to be fairly accurate when leaning over to Jose and sharing upcoming moments. So much of what I remembered came directly from my high school Latin teacher, Diana Garner. Mrs. Garner was one of the most fascinating teachers I have known, and I cannot believe how much of her teachings are still with me in my professional life, as well as in every day life. Generally, I tend to rely on so many skills taught by Mrs. Garner, and my advanced composition teacher, Darren Paquin.

On the drive home, Jose and I discussed the many connections between mythology, and Christianity, and even some of the connectedness to STAR WARS. We discussed some of the similarities between the birth of Christ, and how it was very similar to various aspects of mythologies preceding his birth. Very interesting conversation, and good reading material for comparisons.

I thought the movie was well cast with Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Flemyng, Gemma Arterton, and Alexa Davalos. However, accompanying Harry Hamlin in the 1981 version was a plethora of screen giants, some who were near the end of their careers, and lives, with the exception of Maggie Smith and Claire Bloom who are both still active in their profession, Flora Robson, Burgess Meredith, and Sir Laurence Olivier gave the movie a LOVE BOAT quality since the cheerful television show revisited so many aging stars.

The movie was good, predictable (naturally), and epic in many ways. I am always impressed, and amazed at how quickly technology has changed from my teen years to the generation of my son’s. I now liken my self to my great-grandfather on whose lap I sat as we watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. Grandpa Garrett was only 6 years old when the Wrights first flew at Kitty Hawk, and at age 16 he bought his first horse and buggy. When he began farming, it was with a horse and plow. When Grandpa Garrett retired from farming in 1966, he sold his tractors, combines, tillers, and all other farm machinery. When he was born, the first telephone was installed in the White House. When he died in his 100th year, I received an email telling me he had passed away in the night.

One day, I hope to marvel with my grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in the continued advancement of technology, reminding them that when I was a teen we did not have computers, cell phones, internet, IPods… hell, by the time my great-grandchildren are born, these current technological thrills will be extinct!

“Beam me up, Scotty!”

I have always been a fan of the musical themes associated with each division of our country’s military. When I was conducting bands regularly, I could not wait to conduct THE ARMED FORCES SALUTE.

Men’s Chorus, The Vocal Majority, performing THE ARMED FORCES SALUTE:

I loved turning to announce each branch of the service, and then see those who served rise, clap, and cheer. It was always, and still is, a moving sight.

My favorite military theme has always been “Anchors, Aweigh!”  My Uncle Ron joined the Navy about the time I was beginning piano lessons, and he bought me the sheet music for the Navy’s theme. It was way beyond my capabilities at that age, however, I worked up my own arrangement to play for him when he returned home. In 1987, my uncle was killed in an automobile accident, and for the past twenty-three years, “Anchors, Aweigh” still chokes me up.

One melody that has become my favorite is the virtually unknown Coast Guard march, “Semper Paradis.” Here is the song:

I cannot determine if people are becoming more inconsiderate, even rude, when operating shopping carts in Kroger, driving automobiles, or using their turn signals.

This evening, while shopping in Kroger at Towne & Country, there seemed to be an air of “get the hell out of my way.”

I am always amazed, even appalled at those who walk in pairs down a shopping aisle, shoulder to shoulder, seemingly unaware that they are blocking others coming toward them. Some even become offended that they must budge when I am standing patiently, waiting for them to pass. I have always wondered what would happen if I refused to budge. Would they move? Would they risk having a grocery cart rammed into their thigh or hip?

My mother taught me to say, “excuse me” if I needed to pass in front of someone. At 45, I still excuse myself when walking in front of a fellow customer who is weighing a purchase selection. Tonight I was standing in my favorite aisle, surrounded by the breads, peanut butters, and jellies and jams. As I was looking at peanut butters, this lady stepped right in front of me – not passing in front of me, mind you – she stepped in front of me, stopped, and completely blocked my view of the peanut butters with her backside that looked like two buses trying to pass one another. There was no, “excuse me,” nor any indication that she had rudely stepped directly in front of me. I stood, somewhat impatiently, waiting for her to make a decision, wishing I could simply say, “Hey! Ms. Rudeness 2010, I was standing here trying to make a selection when you rudely stepped in front of me.” She walked away. I continued with my perusing, and as I leaned forward to reach for a particular jar, the same woman stepped right in front of me, pushing my arm out of the way. “Excuse me,” I said, with some uncharacteristic terseness. The woman looked at me, swapped her jars, and walked away.

I sauntered back through the meat department, heading towards the potato chip aisle, and a lady was pushing her cart alongside me, aimed in the same direction. When I arrived at my designated turn, I paused, allowing her to move on, which she did. I stepped into my aisle and the lady jerked her cart around, and cut in front of me, causing me to lose my footing. There was no acknowledgement, but she could not have missed the fact that had I not clumsily bolted out of her way she would have plowed me over.

Throughout the store, the majority of customers appeared to be anxious, even aggravated over the least little thing. I even checked to see if we were in a full moon cycle!

In the parking lot, I cautiously pulled out of my space, aware that a group of twenty-something ladies had just piled into their car. As I edged forward, the driver began backing out without turning to check her left side. Had I not honked, she would have rammed right into me. With the alert, she slammed on her brakes, turned and began waving her middle finger at me as though she had just received her Hogwarts’ acceptance letter!

As I drove the short distance from the Eichelberger Shopping Plaza (where Kroger is located) to the PNC Bank in Towne & Country Shopping Plaza (across the street – most people believe Kroger is actually a part of Towne & Country), I observed people caught in the steady flow of the post-work traffic. Some were courteous, allowing others to wedge into the traffic, but for the most part, it was an atmosphere as determined at getting ahead as any NASCAR event.

Now, I have to admit, I am the Turn-Signal-Nazi. Rarely do I miss the opportunity to use my turn signal, and generally do so with a little extra warning.  I even use the turn signal in parking lots – not just as a courtesy, but because it is also the law.

The code for Ohio Laws & Rules even specifies:

(A) No person shall turn a vehicle or trackless trolley or move right or left upon a highway unless and until such person has exercised due care to ascertain that the movement can be made with reasonable safety nor without giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided.

When required, a signal of intention to turn or move right or left shall be given continuously during not less than the last one hundred feet traveled by the vehicle or trackless trolley before turning…

(B) Except as otherwise provided in this division, whoever violates this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of two or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.

Effective Date: 01-01-2004; 09-21-2006

Very few drivers engaged their turn signals this evening – even when cutting between myself and the car two-car-lengths ahead! As usual, there were no cars behind me, and the impatient cutter could not wait for one more car to pass.

Then you have the gentleman driving west past Steinmart, refusing to stop as I am moving north with Marion’s Pizza just off to my left (I know all you Kettering folks can picture this). I completed my full stop, and proceeded through the intersection, and this gentleman, who merely made a rolling stop, attempted to cut me off. Instead, he was forced to screech to a halt, honking and cursing me. Once I was past, he raced through the dangerously narrow parking strip between PNC Bank and Marion’s Pizza (which is an area where it is difficult to see people exiting from between parked cars, or cars pulling out).

As I drove in front of Fairmont High School, with cars immediately behind me, I executed my intended left turn, in my usual place, toward the middle of East Unit – giving those following me ample time to prepare for my turn.

It is really simple. However, courtesy, even when it a traffic law, seems lost on so many. Whenever a young child utilizes courtesy, or good manners, I always reinforce their courtesy with a compliment – and one for the parents, as well!

So, good parents, continue teaching your children about courtesy, good manners, and how to use their turn signals!

At Noon, Jose and I set out for the six mile jaunt to Cox Gardens & Arboretum on 741/Springboro Pike just north of the Dayton Mall. It is one of the many lovely metro parks throughout the Miami Valley, and perhaps, my favorite. Before adopting, I spent many hours hiking through the gardens, as well as the lengthy wooded pathways. In the Spring, prom goers, and wedding parties crowd the expansive landscape, posing in the endless photographic spots.

I forgot to take my pedometer, so I have no idea how far we hiked, but we were on the trails a little over two hours, stopping often to take in scenery, and capture some of it on film. Jose has a natural photographer’s eye, and does a superb job with the camera I got him for Christmas.

As we began the hike towards the woods, a park vehicle passed us, and the passenger was wearing all orange. I joked to Jose that the young guy probably did not realize he looked like he was wearing a prison jumpsuit. Jose and I approached the clearing where the superintendent’s house stands, and to our surprise, there was a guard, and about 15 men wearing orange jumpsuits! The door of the van read, “Montgomery County Adult Probation.” It was a peculiar feeling walking amongst the tribe of orange clad gentlemen who looked every inch the role you would see in prison movies. Lots of ink on flesh!

The remainder of the hike was up hill, down hill, walking past the lake and lake house, and then returning to the main park.

While on the trail Jose said, “This is great. I get to hike and spend time with my Dad. A great way to spend a day!”

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Finally, the steamy, sticky, humidity has temporarily taken leave of The Miami Valley. Last evening’s thunderstorms, with a brilliant light show surrounding the entire Miami Valley, set the cooling-off into motion, and today we are blessed with a continue cool, breeze, and this with a temperature reading of 82-degrees at almost 4:00pm.

I have begun my summer teaching schedule, and due to several students at camps, or on vacations, I have had several long spells to relax. Well, nap, actually. I am still finding the energy completely drained. Last night I finished teaching and nearly fell into bed, too tired to lift my head. Around 10:00pm, Jose and I walked to Speedway as the storm approached. The sky looked as though fireworks were being set off miles away as the skies were filled with many colors from the heat lightning. It reminded me of conducting the Centerville Community Band one summer at Stubb’s Park. We had just begun playing our final piece, Phantom of the Opera, when the heat lightning began accompanying the medley. It was quite spectacular, and so fitting for that particular number.

Within minutes of returning home, the heaven’s unleashed its wet fury!

I opened the windows to allow the cool winds and fresh air to fill the house. Rather than fall asleep, I remained awake until 2:00am – something that generally happens during the summer months.

During the summers, I only teach on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, freeing up my Thursdays and Fridays for writing, additional business, yard work, and time with Jose. This time next year, he will be in basic training, and the house will be quiet… and most lonely. So, I will try to find something fun for us to do on Thursday, or Friday – hiking, photography at various places, Carillon Park, Old River Park… anything fun.

Friday night I have on-going training for adoption-life, and then will teach a six hour course on Saturday for training.

The blog I posted this morning regarding Touchdown Jesus received a nice comment from the Word Press editor, and placed on the Freshly Pressed page for the system. I have received many responses – varying in their opinions.

It is nearing time to teach for another three hours. The days of teaching are longer, but I have scheduled breaks throughout to assist with pacing, and energy.

As many already know – especially around the Midwest – the ample, gaudy, and familiar structure along the I-75 corridor, King of Kings, was struck by lightning and burned to the ground Monday night during a fierce thunderstorm.  Read Full Article

99% of the Facebook or blog posts I read throughout Tuesday stated relief, or amusement, that the structure, often the butt of jokes, was no more. To many, the structure was commonly known as, “Touch Down Jesus.” Another nickname was “Butter Jesus” – which I admit, was rather true, as it looked like a butter sculpture at a church bizarre or Methodist bishop conference.

There is now a great debate, waging on numerous Facebook sites, as to whether or not this “eye sore” should be returned (in 3 days), or whether the estimated $700,000 to rebuild Touch Down Jesus and the amphitheater, also damaged by fire. Many believe the church’s money should be used to build a homeless shelter, or to feed hungry children.

All these suggestions are great. However, the money does belong to the Solid Rock Church near Monroe, Ohio. They raised the original $250,000 to build the structure, and I am sure they will secure the funds to rebuild – but with no $50,000 contribution from HUSTLER Store owner, Larry Flint, as I jokingly posted yesterday (and many believed it!).

I, for one, could care less whether TDJ is resurrected near Trader’s World, or not. If they rebuild – great. If they use the money for charity – great. The money is the church’s to do with as the people, or teamster union running the church, decide.

To many from this congregation, the structure was actually referred to as their “Lord, and Savior” – as several indicated on news interviews. One lady sobbed that her children had been raised in this church (all before the structure was built in 2004), and that she couldn’t bear for them to return to see the structure they had grown up with destroyed! Ummm…. math skills? A young man of college age (who probably was not in college), stated that he had to come out to the scene to witness this catastrophe for himself, and then devastatingly added, “my Lord, and Savior is gone. He’s gone.”

Hmmm… perhaps the church should consider bringing in some grief counselors who are experienced in liturgical counseling, as well.

Whatever happens with TDJ, happens. I am sure the Solid Rock Church will decide the fate of this structure in a prayerful, Christian attitude that will make us scratch our heads, cheer, or moan.

Today was the start of my summer teaching schedule. It had been delayed a week since a number of schools were not yet dismissed for the summer.

The morning began with the Bane children – Ellie and Jacob – who played the two children in last summer’s production, SOUTH PACIFIC. Ellie has been a piano student for two years, and Jacob began his saxophone lessons today.

It was nice to meet three new students today, and I am looking forward to meeting several more new students Tuesday, and again on Wednesday.

The day ended with Sophie Lockhart’s lesson. Sophie walked over from next door’s Miami Valley Jazz Camp carrying three saxophones – her alto, a tenor, and a baritone.  She is such a good worker, and a smart musician, making her lessons are always such fun.

Our neighbor boy, Kelley, kept Jose company as he cleaned out the car, and washed it. I will be taking it to a body shop to get an estimate on the damage from where someone backed into it.

Supper was brief, and I laid down for a nap which was not brief. Fortunately, I woke at 9:00pm in time to watch a PBS documentary on Andrew Jackson, narrated by my favorite actor, Martin Sheen.

All in all, it was a great day!

4:00am found me wide awake this morning, but I managed to return to two more hours of sleep.

After feeding Logan and Flyer, I settled down to write the morning’s entry on this blog site, and by 9:30am I was finally preparing my presentation on Robert Todd Lincoln for the Lincoln Society of Dayton. For several weeks I had been storing away items in my brain but had not committed any notes to paper. Everything flowed easily, and within an hour I had the entire presentation completed.

I was amazed at how easy it all fell together, but then, I have been studying the Lincoln family for nearly forty years.

At 1:00pm Bob & Sarah Koogler arrived, and after a few minutes of conversation in the house, we set out for the Patterson Family Homestead near the University of Dayton.

I was excited to spend time with Bob & Sarah, and was equally surprised to see Bill & Kay Hetzer, and Geary & Jennifer Biggs.

The crowd was very kind, enthusiastic, and surprisingly eager to learn about Robert Todd Lincoln! The presentation went smoothly, even when I said “Robert Lincoln became a captain in the army under General Lee” – instead of General Grant! The audience roared even more when I tossed the comment off with “I guess I am rewriting history.”

The question/answer segment was filled with some great questions and comments.

After the presentation, the Kooglers, Hetzers, Biggs and I drove over to Ben & Jerry’s for some ice cream, and had the best time laughing.

The Kooglers dropped me off, and I hurried over to pick up Sophie Lockhart for her lesson. I spent a good hour talking to Valerie and Sophie before heading back home for Soph’s lesson.

Jose and I grabbed Subway for dinner (I deserved to have someone else prepare food today), and ate dinner. I settled down in my bedroom to type, and watch The Tony Awards. Slightly uneventful… and disappointing with some of the performances.

The evening is slowing down nicely, and with some relaxation after the whirlwind weekend.

Friday morning at 9:30am, Jose, Flyer and I left Kettering, and aimed westward for Indiana. We took the scenic route, and enjoyed it so much more. Jose and I had the best conversations on the way, and I was so glad that a teenager opted to share a lengthy conversation rather than plug his ears with his favorite tunes.

My cousin, Dana, and her family lives near Lynn, Indiana, and for some reason, I thought it was south of Richmond, Indiana. To my surprise, it is approximately ten miles north of Richmond. Nice little community – as well all those lovely towns along Highways 27, 1, 32 and 28. Winchester, Lynn, Fountain City and Farmland are exceptionally quaint little communities, still thriving with many hometown, downtown businesses. Jose was highly interested in the fact that these communities still maintained so much of their former charm – a charm I knew so well in nearly every city as a child.

One site that caught our attention, and interest on SR-32, just west of Winchester, was the stone entry to the former orphanage, long abandoned. The entrance had the words “Orphans Home” engraved, and the long drive led back to a circle of trees where the building once stood. It was a lovely area, but also one that seemed rich in history, and many sad stories.

We stopped at a Dollar General to buy a water dish for Flyer, and as I stepped out of the car in Albany, Indiana, I looked up and there was Rivar’s! Rivar’s is a dance/show apparel shop, built by former Ball State University Singers alumni. The Rivar sisters have a huge, competitive business that is known throughout the nation.

We pulled into Elwood around 1:00pm, and took Mother to lunch at Richards, one of our favorite haunts.

Back at Mother’s, I saw a tall, elderly gentleman looking at my car. Finally, he came to the door and spoke to Mother who eventually called me out. The neighbor was backing his truck out and rammed into the back end of the car which was parked off the street, and on the grass since there is no curb. He had already called the police out to make a report, and I filled out all the pertinent  information. The gentleman repeatedly mentioned something about a law about vehicles needing to be 18 inches off the street – however, Mother, who has been with the police department for nearly thirty years, and Diane at State Farm Insurance had never heard of this ordinance. I will go have an estimate made, and then send it to State Farm.

After a running a few errands, cutting up vegetables, and chatting endlessly, it was time for supper. We went to the local Chinese Restaurant, greeted by the VERY loud hostess.

The remainder of the evening was relaxing.

The following morning we left the house at 8:00am for Fowler, Indiana where my brother and his family lives. Fowler is one of my favorite spots in the world – it is just so relaxing, and I always seem to return refreshed, and energized. One of my favorite things is seeing the tall, futuristic-looking wind turbines

We arrived shortly before 10:30am and watched my nephew, Parker, play soccer. It was so hilarious watching those little peeps on the field!

Out at the Fowler Haasienda, lunch was prepped while I snapped photos of my nephews at play. Freddie, who is two and a half years, and my Godson, is a riot to watch in action. He is an exhausting little fellow to watch, but quite hilarious, and adventurous.

As always, lunch was delicious. My sister-in-law, Stacia, and her mother, Norma, always fix some of the tastiest dishes.

Just as lunch was finishing up, the guests for Parker’s birthday party began arriving.

Stacia and Destin led them through games, and other fun activities that captivated the lively little crew. While this was going on, Freddie was soaking himself, and Jose, with water from the kiddie water trough in the side yard.

Presents and cake were on the screened in porch – one of the neatest features of the farm… so relaxing, even in the 90-degree heat, and 1,000% humidity that bathed us. Eventually, a thunderstorm arrived, temporarily cooling off the temperature, but before long the steam began rising throughout the countryside sauna.

We left Fowler around 3:45pm, and arrived in Elwood at 5:30pm. We loaded the car, and were pulling out of Mother’s drive at 6:00pm. We retraced our Friday path, and enjoyed the little towns along the way, with more accompaniment of great conversation. We pulled into our own drive at 8:30pm, unloaded the car, went to Family Video so Jose could get a game, and then grabbed a Hot-N-Ready $5 pizza from Little Caesars. Finally, at 11:00pm, I was crawling into bed as a thunderstorm began raging.

A brief, but enjoyable trip.

And Monday, the official summer teaching schedule begins!

In 1986, while a student at Ball State University, I began writing a choral project on President Lincoln. Having been a fan of the 16th president since first grade this was a project I thoroughly enjoyed. For some reason, I had not read much on his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. The precious little information I had obtained led me to follow the belief that she was a hysterical shrew, and hell-cat as described by some of her less flattering contemporaries.

One movement in this proposed choral piece was entitled, “Love Is Eternal,” based on the inscription on Mrs. Lincoln’s Etruscan gold wedding band given to her on the day she married Mr. Lincoln, November 4, 1842. This movement was more a sarcastic treatment rather than one about true love. I began this portion thinking, “Oh, poor Mr. Lincoln, married to Mary Todd… how sad.”

My MTL Research Journey journey began with Ruth Painter Randall’s 1953 biography, Mary Lincoln: Biography of a Marriage. I was soon scratching my head, and wondering why so many from her generation thought of her with such acidity. I began believing, “Oh, poor Mary Todd, married to Mr. Lincoln!”

A friend introduced me to Irving Stone’s, Love Is Eternal: Mary Todd Lincoln. Although I had some minor issues with Mr. Stone’s research, I enjoyed a year of correspondence between the famed historical fiction author, and his lovely wife, Jean. Mr. Stone’s sympathetic portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln was, to me, quite enchanting, and terribly romantic.

Weighed with the enormous works of Ms. Randall and Mr. Stone, I soon began scouring Springfield, Illinois, and Lexington, Kentucky where Mrs. Lincoln was born, and lived the first score of her life.

In Springfield, I became friends with a darling lady, Charlotte Oglesby, the grand-daughter of former Governor Richard Oglesby, a friend of President Lincoln, and one of the two gentlemen to see him into the carriage as he and Mrs. Lincoln drove away to Ford’s Theatre, April 14, 1865.

I was also fortunate to meet Lou Holden, the director of The Mary Todd Lincoln House in Lexington, Kentucky – the first home preserved to honor a first lady. I was delighted to get to know Ms. Holden, and the other staff members of the MTLH, and to further my research.

I also became acquainted with Carol Massey of Lexington – but this story shall wait for another time! It is quite interesting, and very…. well, we shall leave it at “interesting.”

I also became a frequent telephone pal with Samuel A. Schreiner, Jr., author of the 1987 non-fictional, The Trials Of Mrs. Lincoln, a thorough account of the insanity trial, and the former first lady’s clever plot to legally restore her sanity.

Throughout those four years, I became obsessed with MTL’s story, and even worked with a BSU professor who was experienced in Victorian prose, and a local OBGyn who assisted me with the Nineteenth Century’s knowledge of gynecology, uncovering some of the claims made against Mrs. Lincoln.

Around 1988, I met, and fell in love with the phenomenal actress/vocalist, Kathleen “Katie” Pfister-Musick (photo at right). I knew immediately Katie was the right one to portray Mrs. Lincoln on stage, and after 24 years, I still believe she is perfect for the role.

When I moved to Dayton, Ohio the summer of 1990, I put aside my script and score on Love Is Eternal, and absorbed myself in teaching, directing, conducting, traveling back and forth between Dayton and New York with various projects, and by 2000, adopting sons.

Now that life has slowed down a tad (no pun intended, of course), I began looking over the Lincoln musical, again.

Ironically, via Google Alerts, and Facebook, I became E-cquainted with a Mary Lincoln scholar, and actress, Donna D. McCreary, from Indiana. I was quick to learn she is also friends with a dear college friend, and exceptionally talented actor, J.R. Stuart.

The past few days, my new Mary Todd Lincoln E-friend and I have shared several interesting, amusing letters, and my laid-aside interest in Mrs. Lincoln is resurfacing.

1986-1990 took me on a fascinating journey with Mrs. Lincoln, and this coming Sunday I shall re-enter the ring as I present to the Dayton Lincoln Historical Society, a presentation on Robert Todd Lincoln, and his relationship with his mother.

Robert Todd Lincoln – from youth to old age. Last photo shows RTL at the dedication of The Lincoln Memorial with former president, William Howard Taft (then serving as Chief Justice) and President Warren G. Harding.

I was asked by The Lincoln Society of Dayton to offer a presentation on Robert Todd Lincoln, eldest son, and only child of President Abraham & Mary Todd Lincoln to survive into adulthood.

I will be giving this presentation Sunday, June 13th @ 3:00pm at the John Patterson Homestead off of Brown Street.

I am focusing my presentation on the relationship between RTL and his mother, Mary Todd Lincoln. In 1875, Mary Lincoln was judged insane and committed to a private sanitarium following allegations from Robert that his mother was unbalanced.

I want to involve the audience – perhaps, in a mock re-trial weighing some of the evidence from each side.

I have even considered having any actresses (using notes) portray Mrs. Lincoln to help defend herself; but it is kind of late for this.

If anyone has any suggestions, please send them to me:

dljh@sbcglobal.net

Thank you!

Right now, Jose and I are watching a documentary, National Geographics: 9/11 – Science and Conspiracy .

I was born the day the The Warren Commission Report was opened for the world to read ten months following President Kennedy’s assassination. Of course, the conspiracy theories were already abundant. As a kid I studied the Lincoln, JFK and RFK conspiracy theories, and anything else that crossed my path.

I don’t readily buy into conspiracy theories, but I am finding this particular documentary quite believable, and possible.

There is some tennis event on NBC. The skies above the Miami Valley have resembled a tennis match all morning… for a few minutes the sun shines, and shortly, the dark clouds hover… back and forth.

The storms for the past two nights have woke me, and the pounding rains lulled me back to sleep each time. Yesterday afternoon, and evening, the heat and humidity were unbearable. This afternoon, a cool breeze keeps the curtains in my bedroom dancing back and forth from the screen windows while the shadows of trees moves across the kitchen cabinets and floor. The wind chimes on the deck create a continues song.

I know my week was not nearly as busy as so many others, but for me, it was extremely busy. The past few days of relaxation, after nearly nine straight days of continuous activity, were most welcome.

Friday, after teaching, I ran a few errands with Jose, and then we settled on a meal from Steak N Shake. Neither of us were interested in doing anything, so we each settled on our own movies. I had received It’s Complicated from Netflix, but it just did not interest me; so, I settled on several on-line movies:

  • The George Burns & Gracie Allen Collection
  • HH Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer
  • The Bible According To Hollywood

Saturday morning alternated between rain and sunshine, so I settled at my laptop in my bedroom with several books, and my Netflix movies running:

  • Cold Case Files: Killer In The Country
  • The Jewish People: A Story of Survival

A little after Noon, I completed some household tasks, and started several loads of laundry. Rain storms hit pretty hard for a while, so I returned to my room and watched portions of several movies, occasionally chatting with Jose as he passed back and forth from the kitchen to the basement.

I drove Jose to work since the storms were striking intermittently, and ran errands to Dollar General and Kroger. Back at home I worked at my desk a little, keeping an eye on the sky and the clock should Jose need me to pick him up.

I decided to research a little more on Cornelius Vanderbilt, a minor character in the Wright Brother’s musical.

Jose arrived home from One Lincoln Park, and offered me a tray of beef and noodles, mashed potatoes, and stewed tomatoes. As always, the chef created a triumph!

Jose descended to the basement to XBox360 world, and I turned on more Netflix as Flyer and Logan snuggled next to me. I know my selections would boar most, but I thoroughly enjoyed learning about these historical figures.

The story of the Kellogg brothers of Battle Creek, Michigan, was extremely interesting, as was the story of hotel giant, Conrad Hilton.  The Kellogg brothers, and Conrad Hilton, were all incredible entrepreneurs, well ahead of their times.

Conrad Hilton was married to Zsa Zsa Gabor – who, to my surprise, is still living! Her sister, Ava had died, but I figured this other Gabor sister was also deceased. If you get a chance to Google Ms. Gabor’s more recent photos, please do. I will post them. Despite being in her 90’s, she still grabs some of the glamour… barely. I had not made the connection of this gentlemen to Paris Hilton!

I received an email from a student’s parent that she was watching Eugene O’Neill’s A Long Day’s Journey Into Night. I knew of the play, but had never seen the movie. She grew up near Katharine Hepburn in Connecticut, and watches all Ms. Hepburn’s movies. I decided to research it, and then pull up the movie on Netflix.

The movie, which includes Ms. Hepburn, also stars Ralph Richardson, Jason Robards (who starred in the original stage play), and a very young Dean Stockwell who is more popularly known from his roles in Quantum Leap and Battlestar Gallactica. I read a good deal about the 1962 movie’s director, Sidney Lumet (1924- ), and his style of directing. What a fascinating director.

I have a feeling I am being “encouraged” to study this director. I was introduced to Mr. Lumet’s work last night. This morning I was watching a morning news program Anderson Cooper, and Googled him. I had no idea he was the 3rd great grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt – who I had researched Saturday evening – and the son of Gloria Vanderbilt – a wife of Sidney Lumet!

Coincidence?

I was so moved by this movie that I could not turn it off to go to sleep. At 2:45am, I finally decided that I must. I should have continued watching it as it was less than an hour that the newly arrived storms were waking me.

Upon returning from Fairmont’s graduation exercises, and running a few errands with Jose, I curled up in bed with my laptop playing a Netflix instant video on The History Channel’s Modern Marvels – Golden Gate Bridge.

Fascinating!

If you can grab a copy of this DVD, it is well worth it… fifty minutes of reassurance of the American spirit, community, and passion.

Here is a video from You Tube about the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge:

Technically, Jose’s last day of school was yesterday when he finished his science exam. However, the remainder of Kettering’s schools are dismissed today. Beavercreek and Centerville students have an additional week – and I have heard the grumbling and groaning from those students when they learn Fairmont seniors have been out for two weeks.

Tonight is Fairmont’s graduation and I will be heading out there to watch a portion of that.

Right now, I am waiting on my first student for the day, and frantically typing to finish this blog posting. The skies have darkened to a bluish grey, and a rain shower, or thunderstorm seems to be upon us. Last evening brought us torrential rains, and much cooler weather. Right now we have 75-degrees, and it is just comfortable.

This morning, the announcement of Rue MacClanahan’s death arrived, and immediately her loss was felt by many. It is funny how we are so shocked at the death of a celebrity, myself included, as though we expect them to be invincible. I watched an interview from two years ago, and I was so surprised to see how Ms. MacClanahan had aged so drastically. She and the other darling ladies of GOLDEN GIRLS certainly brought us many hours of laughter – and continue to do so.

This has been a relaxing day. I have been swamped the past few weeks, and today just seemed to be the right time to take a deep breath. Jose slept in until 11:00am, having played XBox most the night, I am sure. I almost called him on the intercom at 7:15am to ask if he was awake for school… I thought against it knowing he will have ample time to play a return favor to me as a practical joke.

Some of my SBC emails are not arriving speedily, or if they are, they tend to hit the SPAM file. I need to start searching for another provider as I have tired of SBC’s poor product.

June 3, 2004, on a Thursday morning at 10:55am, my grandfather, Leroy Barmes, passed away.

Grandpa loved nothing more than to make people laugh.  In fact, it was his gift to us.  Of course, it goes without saying that he had an element of performance that often made him the center of attention and I’ve always said that Grandpa liked to be the bride at every wedding, the corpse at every funeral and the baby at every christening.

Sometimes, he was simply larger than life.

By the time I was able to walk and talk as a toddler I was Papaw Leroy’s little companion. It seemed as though I went everywhere with Grandpa, and one of my greatest joys was riding in the police car with him. I loved spending time with him, and remember him whistling, playing his harmonica, or humming “The Whiffenpoof Song.”

One day, after my Grandma Donna had taken me to watch the Panter Band practice at the old T-Way parking lot for the Indiana State Fair contest, I was marching around their front porch with a pretend trumpet. Grandpa asked, “Are you honkin’?” At the age of three I suppose I thought I meant “is your name ‘Honkin'”? So, when asked my name, I replied, “Darin Honkin’ Jolliff.”

Thus, Grandpa dubbed me with the nickname, “Honkin’” or simply, “Honk.”  He was the only one who ever called me, this and most of my cards, or letters, for nearly forty years were addressed to “Honkin’.

One of my earliest memories of my grandfather is not one most grandchildren would have.  We were having a church picnic out at Elwood’s Calloway Park and I, at age three, climbed to the top of a twenty foot slide.  For whatever reason, I looked over the side and lost my balance.  To this day, I can still clearly remember falling head first and seeing the ground begin to blur into a mass of solid green.  The image of my forty-six year old grandfather running towards me with outstretched arms is forever etched in my mind.  Grandpa caught me that afternoon.

As a young boy, Grandpa convinced me he had grown up with Abraham Lincoln. At Lincoln’s Indiana boyhood home, he pointed out a section of split rails that formed a fence, “Now, me and Abe chopped all those rails.”

I learned how Grandpa taught Lincoln how to play football, what good cooks Nancy Hanks and Mary Todd Lincoln were, how Grandpa assisted Lincoln with radio transmissions during the Civil War to follow Confederate lines, and how he and Grandma helped babysit the Lincoln sons. The history books have never described how the Lincoln funeral train was rerouted from Indianapolis through Elwood because Grandpa Leroy could not get off work from the police department.

In 1975, I entered the 5th grade at Washington Elementary School, and my teacher was the oft acerbic, yet terribly witty, Garnetta Brugger who had taught Mother and my uncles and cousins. On the first day of class, Mrs. Brugger was taking attendance and sharing tidbits about each student she knew. When she got to me, she explained to the class that she had taught my mother, and that she had known my grandparents since they were young. I was excited, and burst out with, “Oh, so you knew Abraham Lincoln, too!”

Mrs. Brugger, who could be quite intimidating, threw back her head as though struck with a blunt object, and grabbed her hair. “Honey child, I might look old, but I am not THAT old. Your grandday’s been telling you some whoppers.”

That evening, I looked in our encyclopedia. President Lincoln had died in 1865. Grandpa Leroy was born in 1921!

For over sixty years Grandpa kept jars filled with newspaper clippings on which he always wrote the date.  As a child I learned a good deal about our family’s history and of major events in the lives of our family friends through yellowed newspaper clippings.

One huge cookie jar contained clippings regarding the tragic loss of his uncle, Glenard Daugherty who was killed on Iwo Jima in 1945, obituaries of his Grandpa and Grandma Daugherty, his own new job at the Elwood Police Department in 1952, birth announcements of my mother, Diana, and uncles, Ron and Tommy, engagement and wedding announcements of his nieces, Judy and Jan Smith, a TV Guide page with a photograph of his cousin, Steve Daugherty announcing his new talk show on channel 13, an article of his cousin Stan Daugherty’s appointment as Elwood’s head basketball coach in 1980, and countless clippings about athletic or personal successes of family, neighbors and church friends.  Even in his 80’s and as his health began to decline, he still maintained this last jar of clippings.

These jars were not filled with yellowed, crumbling keepsakes.  These clippings were his gifts to us, reminding each of us the importance of family, and friends.  These clippings symbolize our family’s rich heritage throughout the years.  They encouraged us to never quit until we have crossed the finish line, to urge his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins – all of us who follow his generation – to stay connected to one another and to always keep our family together.

But above all, those clippings were gifts to never let us forget just how dearly Leroy Barmes loved and cherished his family and friends.

Six years ago I bid farewell to not only my grandfather, but to the man who stepped in to fill the role of “substitute dad” when our natural father abandoned us early in life.  Grandpa was the one who taught each of us how to throw, field and bat baseballs, and how to do so many of the other things that only a dad can truly teach his young children.  He, along with our mother, and our Grandma Donna, insisted that we do our best, always, and to rise above each and every adversity that attempted to barricade our lives.

Not only was Grandpa a roll model as a father figure, he was a roll model as an uncle.  I was blessed with wonderful uncles in Ron and Tom (and my Uncle Gary Jolliff), as well as our great uncles and even great-great-uncles, but I was very fortunate to observe Grandpa as “Uncle Roggie” or “Uncle Leroy.”  I hope that one day, my own niece and nephews will think of me with the adoration summed up by my cousin, Tanya, when she wrote her fondest memory of her Uncle Roggie, “He’s my uncle.  What more is there?”

All through my school years Grandpa never missed school programs, music concerts, marching band contests, college choir concerts, University Singers Spectaculars – no matter how far away from home.  Even as an adult, the year before he passed away, he was sitting in the front row at the Elwood Variety Show when I was invited back to perform. Later that fall he was up in the bleachers to watch my brother, Destin, coach his football team in a game against the Tipton Blue Devils.

Six years ago, with heartfelt gratitude and deep affection, and a treasury of many wonderful memories, I concluded a chapter in a tremendous book that is far from being finished.

For the past six years, I’ve not been addressed as “Honkin’.” And it is only fitting that the former nickname has been laid aside. Despite the fact that Grandpa had died, I knew, even then, that he would always be with me… and with me he has been. My humor, passion for living, love of being a father and uncle, and love for God are all remnants of my beloved grandfather.

“Auf wiedersehn” – “until we meet again.”

Today, June 2nd, would have been my great-great grandmother’s birthday. Anna Greenlee Jones, the daughter of Andrew Taylor Greenlee and Prudence Anna Ball, was born in 1875 in Boone Township, Madison County, Indiana.

As young girls, Anna and her sisters, Carrie, Mary and Esther, were quite a tribe of pranksters and, in some ways, holy terrors. The stories passed down from my grandmother about her own grandmother were generally quite funny, but also somewhat unbelievable.

One story was of a young Anna and her sisters taking darning needles and piercing one another’s ears. They took a piece of straw to stick through the new openings. However, Anna’s ear became infected. Now, in 1890, this was serious, but Grandmother Greenlee (my third great-grandmother) took the opportunity to gently box Anna’s ear when she got out of line.

Anna was fortunate to marry a jokester, and prank-loving man, Joel Monroe Jones (1873-1946). Together, Anna and Joel were a fun-loving, jovial couple that instilled an incredible sense of humor in their own three children: Mary Bell, my great-grandmother, and her younger brothers, Alphie and Harry. Their brother, Henry, died at age two.

As a grown woman, Anna was known to have thrown buckets of water on unsuspecting farm-hands walking around a barn’s corner, or stringing a line of tin cans from the front screen door and up the staircase only to come crashing down on a timid maid coming home late in the evening from a date.

When my great-grandmother was a teenager, she held a Sunday school party at her home, the Vinson-Jones farm just south of Forrestville Cemetery, and down the road from the Greenlee farm in Boone Township. All the teenagers arrived in their horse and buggies – the kind where the wheels in the rear were larger than the wheels in the front. While the party was going on, Joel kept himself, and several farm hands busy reversing each buggy’s wheels. Considering the amount of work to change these wheels, it had to be an incredible task! So, when the party disbanded, the teenagers were forced to drive home barely able to see over the dash of their buggies! The funny thing is, Grandpa Jones was very stern looking, and the photos taken of him do not reveal his wit, and devilish humor.

Photos of Grandma Jones (1875-1950):

I am certain my great-grandmother, Belle Jones Clary (1897-1968), had a sense of humor, but it was surely eclipsed by the orneriness of her younger brothers, Alphie and Harry. I can only imagine the laughter, and many pranks in the Jones family home.

In 1973, my great-great uncle, Alphie Jones, died on his mother’s birthday.

Although Belle married the slightly witty, John William “Garrett” Clary (1898-1997), I don’t recall Grandpa Garrett being as much of a prankster as he was the target of so many pranks. His two daughters, Donna (1924-1992), my grandmother, and Aunt Joyce (1932) were forever creating a plethora of hilarious stories that still keep our family howling to this day. Poor Grandpa Garrett never knew whether he would find his shirt sleeves buttoned to other shirts, or his bed short-sheeted or filled with corn flakes. His standard response was a comical growl, “Those damned girls!” That phrase continued clear through the years when Donna and Joyce were grandmothers, themselves!

My Grandma Donna and Grandpa Leroy Barmes (1921-2004) maintained the legacy of humor, instilling it in their own three children: Diana, my mother, Uncle Ron (1952-1987) and Uncle Tom (1954). Grandpa Leroy came from a long line of practical jokers, as well, and the stories of my great-grandfather, Virgil Barmes (1900-1971), could fill a book! Grandpa Virgil, along with his brother-in-law, Harry Daugherty and some of the other Daugherty brothers, filled a completely separate treasure chest with memorable stories!

One of my most treasured impressions of my grandparents will always be their sense of humor. As a little boy, my earliest memories are filled with family laughter, mostly stemming from my grandparents. I often tell, and retell the hilarious moments that accompanied me through the years. Although my grandparents are no longer living, their spark of humor and laughter is eternal.

The one thing I have so enjoyed as a father is laughing often, and heartily! Fortunately, Jose has an incredible sense of humor, and there is scarcely a day that is not filled with three-fourths laughter. We have our serious moments, but we continually find them merged with chuckles, or outright laughter.

I am so grateful that part of my DNA has included a sense of humor. I do hope I will one day be remembered by my grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren for my sense of humor, and pranks!

Last night’s rain showers cooled things off beautifully, the morning was crisp, and refreshing.

After Jose left the house to go take two final exams, I putzed around the house with a variety of things before showering and heading down to Miami Valley Hospital for my EMG.

I left slightly early because I never know how the traffic will be around the University of Dayton area. It is either a line or traffic due to regular busyness, or endless road repairs. I easily made it to the area in eight minutes, and decided to drive up to the pinnacle of Woodland Cemetery to look out over Dayton and the Miami Valley.

Here is the new structure at “the lookout”, and a view of Dayton.

I drove a few short blocks to Miami Valley Hospital, parked and easily found where I needed to be.

After filling out a few forms, I was escorted back to a room and asked to remove my shirt. Soon, Dr. Jillian entered, and began asking questions about the numbness, and tingling in my arms, hands, neck and head. And then the procedure began.

Quite interesting!

He used a device on various parts of my hands, arms, neck and shoulders that sent little shocks into each area. It would be a series of shocks beginning with very mild to very strong. After that was completed, he then inserted a fine needle into the various muscles. The muscle right beneath my thumbs was the most painful – but other than that, it was a tiny stick.

Here is a video about the procedure.

As he was continuing with the procedure, Dr. Jillian kept me chatting about what I did for a living, and when he learned I was a music teacher, he admitted that he enjoyed GLEE. At first he said that his daughter was a big fan, and that he felt obligated to spend quality time with her. I raised my head, and said, “Face it, your are a big old Gleek, and don’t try to use your daughter as the excuse for watching it.”

I was right!

When the procedure was completed he said everything was fine, and that there was no carpel tunnel.

Yea!

Lunch is over, Jose is watching television, and I am going to take a nap before teaching.

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