Old Diary

Hiatus No More

skotan-No-signI’m done hiatus-ing.

The new Life Unscripted will be a little different but not a whole lot.  I’m still the same person so the writing won’t change much.

What will be different is that I am consciously leaving behind comment on the world of full-time RV’ing in favor of an emphasis on the life we are now living.  That means a focus on what’s happening in our life (mine and Peg’s) — even though we may be going fewer places and seemingly having fewer exciting experiences.  After all, life isn’t all about adventure. Some of it, indeed most of it, is about the hum drum decisions of routine life.  That means coping with changes — changes we aren’t always happy with: in the world, in our families, in our selves, in our health, finances, etc.

The change in emphasis doesn’t seem all that great to you, but it took a significant change to my state of mind to bring it about.  I’m sure it will be worth it — at least it will be for me.  🙂

There are things in this life that are important to me.  Things beyond putting food in my tummy — although that can be exceedingly fun! I want to spend some time talking about those things.  And about how we can cope with a world far larger than any of us can control or even understand.


Life is getting ever more complicated. We face challenges as individuals, as groups, and also as a species.  Which of these challenges we will acknowledge has yet to be seen.  And those challenges we not only acknowledge but also engage in changing to meet will determine how and where this unscripted life will end.  For us individually, and for us collectively.

Come on along and join in the fun. We’ll travel a little, eat a little, laugh a little, and get up on a soap box from time to time — I’m sure.  But it’s all in the name of fun and no one dares take themselves too seriously.

Old Diary

Sharing Joy

35' Mirada

35’ Coachman Mirada

Wally & Eileen bought a new RV.  We only met Wally & Eileen last week.  But they were so excited about their new RV that they had to return this weekend to try her out and show her off.  Isn’t that just the way it is with RV’ers!

Last evening we were sitting outside in our holding chairs — accessible to campers who don’t know where their site might be but not a bother for those who know the routine.  When they arrived, Eileen was driving their car, and Wally the new-to-them Mirada.  Eileen — ahead of Wally — slowed down with the window open and shouted out, “Peter & Peggy — it’s us!”  And we looked up and there they were.

One aspect of RV’ing that I never tire of, and that never ceases to amaze me is the warmth and openness of RV’ers.  Before we sold our house we’d lived in numerous places and we never had bad neighbors but we never in our entire previous life had neighbors who were as cheery and happy as most of the people we’ve met whilst RV’ing. We can sit at a camper’s campsite and learn all manner of interesting things about their past lives, their loves, and their passions.

This sort of gig — where we’re hanging out in the same place for an extended time — means that a lot of these campers we’ll see again — several times throughout the summer. Minnesotans (Twin Cities Residents mostly) use this as one of many parks close enough for weekend getaways.  A few people make their reservations as soon as the reservation window opens and return throughout the summer. Some of them return with friends, but mostly they show up as couples or singles to enjoy the forest setting and whomever might turn out to be neighbors.

What amazes me is that people are so open with friends of such short duration.  It’s much easier to see how Winter Snowbirds would get to be friendly with the couple in the RV next to them all winter.  But to see and participate in such rapid friendships in such short time is quite a treat. Back in the day when we were young we did a vacation in Palm Springs at one of the clothing optional hotels there.  We were struck by the way the people who are not wearing indicators of success were open to whomever they came across. That wasn’t entirely true because there were a few baubles and items of jewelry that gave away the financial status of the guests but in general these were nothing more than people meeting people.  It’s not something you often find in society;  we all carry our symbols of affluence on us as we go through life:  the cut of our suit, the brand shoes,  even the manufacturer of our eye glass frames.  We shout to other people how well we’re doing.

But RV’ing is a bit of a odd-duck situation.  Oh, there are the folks who shout out their success in their RV — you’ll always have people who want others to envy them.  But last week’s visit by the Tear Drop trailers was another reminder that RV’ing can be about all sorts of things.  For many of last weekend’s teardroppers — their RV experience was about demonstrating their skill and expertise in making their own trailer.  There were a couple teardrops that were visually economy models but I have to say that there were also several that spared no expense in putting those teardrops together and they were all about sharing ideas and creativity.

I often say that there’s “No right way to RV”.  And you know by now that I mean that we RV’ers with different talents, likes, and bankrolls  bring that same diversity to our RV’ing.  Whatever works for you, works for you and there’s no one to say that you’re doing it wrong.  I almost wonder, however, if there is one common trait, which is the willingness to be open to new experience and ideas.  From my blog you’ll know that you can never count on what’s going to happen — RV’s do breakdown and things do go awry.  But beyond the negative surprises there are also a lot of positive surprises that deserve similar attention.  For ever delay in getting to a reserved campground I bet there are half a dozen new friends that we’ve met (maybe a lot more).  For every malfunction there are new experiences that thrill us.  I wonder if along the way I have scared a few folks off from RV’ing because they read about the mishaps and think they could never handle them.  But the reality is that unless a person pays not attention to their equipment the mishaps don’t happen that often and the joys are pretty regular occurrences.

Later today I’m sure Eileen & Wally will want to show us their new RV.  And we’ll be happy to take a look.  There’s an old saying about Joys shared are multiplied and sorrows shared are divided.  People LIKE to share with others.  And being willing to enter into their joy not only makes US feel better, it makes them feel better too.

Thanks for stopping by.  Let’s talk again tomorrow!

Old Diary

Happy Anniversary Sweetheart

Forty-Seven years ago I had no idea what being married for 47 years could be like!  I was young — in those days at age 19 I still had to be signed for by a parent if I wanted to marry.  And, OH! — I was marrying an older woman.  She was all of 21.  The world was our oyster — but at our age neither of us had ever eaten an oyster, or even shucked one for that matter.

And today, 47 years later I can’t imagine life without Peggy.

We have always heard about how difficult it is to make a marriage work but we’ve never found that to be true.  We surely have been blessed, but as I’ve shared before, ours was not your typical courtship — I proposed to Peggy  we ever went on a date — and we were married a scant three months later.  What we had were commonalities in our view of life and our purpose on earth from there we started building a life and I really can’t remember the last time we disagreed on much of anything.

There is something good about sort of ‘growing up’ together.  Who we were becoming was still very much in a state of flux but we grew together and we have pretty much always done almost everything together.  She was the woman I wanted to spend my life with and even though there were long periods of time — months on end — that work kept me away from home — there has never been anything I have wanted more than just spending time with my bride.  And now — for the last 4 years we’ve been able to do that every single day — and I still can’t get enough.

Sweetheart, I know you read my blog of a morning, with your first ‘cuppa’ that I usually bring you while you spend a few extra minutes in bed and I clatter away on the keyboard.  Thank you for sharing your life with me.  Thank you for being the great constancy to control my whims. Thank you for being the constant cheerleader for my hair-brained schemes.Thank you for coming along on this Life Unscripted.

No one knows what the future will bring, but I know two things.

You can always count on me.

I can always count on you.

In a world where trust seems so hard to find the intimacy of those two sentences is almost more than can be borne.  To come, 47 years through life, without breaking trust is a miracle in itself — at least it seems so when we hear of all the stupid things people do to each other.  But this is the way life is “supposed to be.”  We meant what we said 47 years ago and we’ve lived what we said.

I love you, thank you, and you get breakfast in bed this morning (seeing as my blog is on just the right day for a change).

2012021211542905 2012030106026491 2012030106026492

And to the rest of you….

Thanks for eavesdropping and I’ll talk to YOU tomorrow.

Family, Old Diary


A really close friend of mine was a weather-head.  He has passed now, but lived his life in Kansas and his weather condition records detailed his life in Ottawa for almost 1/2 a century. yahoo weather app I am nothing like him.

I can glance at my smartphone weather app 100 times in the day, see the temp, and then forget it just that quickly.  Or (as many RV’ers who concern themselves with the overnight low when the temps are near freezing) I catch the overnight low… and ignore the rest.  I’m a very focussed guy; sometimes focus gets in the way of seeing.

This time of year I pay a little more attention to the forecasts than the rest of the year.  Spring and Autumn we are usually spent en route from North to South and sudden changes are more likely to affect our travel choices.

  • We avoid high winds when possible
  • We avoid snow (which is to say driving in snow) and ice whenever possible.
  • We concern ourselves with freezing temperatures.  If we are connected to a water supply we disconnect and run off our onboard tanks, and we may hook up our heat tape to our water line and / or turn on our water bay heating.
  • In Spring we try to follow the warm up, in Autumn we try to get South before the cold hits us in the North.

There’s no value for me to keep daily records like my friend did;  it’s unlikely that we’ll be in the same place two years in a  row.  At one time I tried adding daily weather details to the blog and quickly realized that was a dumb idea.  Too much work for no reward.

But…temperature map By keeping our travel plans within average climate predictions we manage to do most of the above without much stress.

Planning pays off. Stay proactive and move before the trouble occurs whenever possible.

Obsessive planning doesn’t. Sometimes we make mistakes and pay the piper for not paying attention to the change of seasons.  That’s what happened in the Spring of ’15 when we stayed in S. Texas longer than we should have.  We hope to avoid the same this autumn — but now we’re dependent on a clear signal from the doctor.

We’re learning how to do this as we go; just like every other RV’ing couple.

flooded campgroundAnd there’s no sense in getting all worked up about our mistakes — unless of course one were to end up in 5’ of water in a flooded campground.  That kind of mistake we all want to avoid.

Obsession is a strange human trait.  About many things, obsession is not a good idea. About some things obsession is the only way to live.  If you are an artist — obsession with your art might be your best friend.  If you are an eater, obsession with food might be your worst enemy.  Finding balance is the trick of all tricks.

This past two months my cardiologist has had me tracking my blood pressure and pulse.  Let me clarify:  he’s had me taking readings 10-14 times a day.  Now think about that.  10 – 14 times a day.  On one level that doesn’t sound like a hard thing.  It only takes a minute — once you are sitting and resting.  So, it’s not really the act of only a minute,  it’s the act of a few minutes.  And then there’s the part about remembering to do it about once an hour — because after sleep and eating, 14 or 15 hours are all that remain of the day.

What we’ve been doing — the doc and I — has been finding the right dosage of a medicine that slows my pulse,  we’re messing with my heart rate.  I have to tell you, that’s not something you do with out causing odd thoughts to pop up from time to time.  Like: “what’s too low?”  “Is this the way I should be feeling?” “Why do the numbers go up and down so much?” And many many more.

Don’t get me wrong,  I’m not a hypochondriac.  I think I have a level head and I can be very analytical — which in itself can be a form of obsession.  But I have been healthy all my life, none of us escapes this world without dying and at some point in time that’s going to happen to me too.  Preferably later rather than sooner, but about some things we have little or no control.  We do the best we can,  maybe we even alter our lifestyle to live a little longer, but in the end we all have an expiration date.

here is lifeAll this blood pressure checking gets into your head though…  Our bodies are these very involved chemical factories and they are very much like this earth in the sense that how we live on earth affects how our planet functions the same way how we live in our body affects how our body functions.  Like gravity there’s not much we can do about some things;  genetics and our past living have their effects, and they are beyond alteration.  About some aspects of life we are quite helpless. Obsessing about them helps nothing.

One of the effects has been to make me less patient with people obsessing about everything that is wrong or bad, and whinging about them incessantly.  That’s life.  Get used to it.

I’ll never stop caring about the weather.  I love the seasons, I love the changes.  Oh, I suspect I’ll never stop disliking the cold.  I’ll never stop caring about my health, that’s a prudent and wise thing to do.  But neither is it good to obsess about it, nor to waste my life whinging about what’s wrong, or right, or happening.

I have always been a bit obsessive.  I know that about myself.  My dad always told me I had a One Track Mind.  He was right.  Great powers of concentration do that.   It’s easy to block out the rest of the world and concentrate on getting done what you want to get done.  Retirement has been hard in a good way  because I haven’t had projects lined up to be accomplished one right after the other.  And it’s taken me four years of retirement to adopt a little more of a  laissez faire attitude.  Some of the projects I have tied up during our stay in Milwaukee have been on my list for over a year — and they just sort of all fell into place while we were here — without straining or stress. It was bothering me that the list of projects was still there — unchanged, or if anything growing longer.  But the fact of the matter is that it didn’t bother me all that much; it didn’t bother me enough to change the situation.  And that is the key.  I could look at them and not feel compelled to do anything.  And I was comfortable with that.

For so many years I had to have a deadline.  If there was no deadline I made a deadline so that I had one to work towards.  Letting go has not been a battle — because I haven’t exactly been thinking about “I have to let this go.”  I’ve been enjoying other things.  The ones that haven’t gotten done simply had less importance. And to me, that’s the best way to learn.  Let something thrill you, inspire you, excite you — and the ones that don’t just fall away.   That’s healthy.  That’s what I am enjoying about retirement.  I don’t have to, I just do.

We’re still hoping maybe we’ll get out of town around the beginning of November.  We aren’t sure.  Seems that 2015 has been the year of waiting, over and over and over again — each time for a different reason.  Maybe all that waiting has helped me let go of things;  maybe it’s all just a lot of hot air.  Hey, I’ve never been accused of saying too little.  🙂

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

All you hear is the thunder of wings as thousands of snow geese fly out in the morning.

All you hear is the thunder of wings as thousands of snow geese fly out in the morning.

Old Diary

As Useless as … Healthcare

Healthcare is an issue for pretty much any RV’er I know.  I have had my issues with it.  There was that time between retirement and Medicare where I was in a precarious spot when Peg went on Medicate and I was not yet eligible and ended up in the Wisconsin High Risk Insurance Pool — but mostly I haven’t had to think too much  about what’s covered and what isn’t.

This past week has flipped that upside down because of a single issue.

One of my doctors has recommended a genetic test to see whether what is happening is genetically caused, or is an acquired condition.  The question I neglected to ask — and I’ll rectify that in a few days — is what difference knowing will make (or not) in treating the condition.  One would think that in either event the physician will treat the symptoms.  I supposed that if it’s an acquired condition I might be able to impact it’s development through behavior modification but possibly not.

At any rate…. Paying for genetic testing is an interesting example of how badly broken the healthcare system is.

The doctor anticipated that Medicare would not pay; if I wanted to have the testing done I would have to pay between $500/$600 out of pocket.  Ok – a lot of money but cheaper than (for example) a hospital performed stress test.

The doctor’s nurse advised that a representative of the Genetic testing lab would contact me.  And eventually she did.  The initial conversation was pretty generic she asked whether we wanted to go ahead, explained that they have a benevolent care policy and always attempt to keep the cost as low (out of pocket) as possible.  She was talking in the same ballpark as the doctor in terms of our cost.

When I said we did not have supplemental commercial insurance the conversation changed markedly.  Suddenly she had to submit our specific case to their billing department to get an insurance estimate.  She promised to call back in a day or so.

And she did.  But this time the numbers were very different indeed.  No.  Medicare would not cover it — there are no established guidelines for when gene testing is needed and if there are no guidelines then Medicare will not pay… yada, yada, yada.  End result?  We would have to pay $1500-$1600 out of pocket.  For an answer that might not affect what or how they treated me!!!!!

The conversation carried on a little further.  I immediately drew back on the reigns and said I really needed to speak with the physician who ordered the tests to find out how necessary it really was to do this, and the Rep began back peddling.  Perhaps, she said, she could have the doctor order the test but then bill it through a different practice that orders more tests to get a lower rate?  (That really sounds like their genetic testing is priced based on the volume of purchases by the medical practice)  Then again perhaps she cold find some other way to get the fee to me reduced…. she’d heard of their allowing some patients to pay only $475 and she would try to get that pricing for me.

So, now I have a range of pricing being thrown about from full price to 29% of full price.  Or said the other way, between the cheapest price offered to some, and a price times 3.3 for those better healed in the insurance department!

Part of me wonders if it’s even worth it — if the physician is going to treat symptoms is it even worth the expense.

Part of me is really ticked off — not just about my own out of pocket expense but moreso about the many people who may no have any kind of advocate and who get told:  “this is how much it costs, like it or lump it.”

Republican-Presidential-Debate-3I’m half a week away from visiting the appropriate doctor and carrying on the conversation.  I have time to think about what I want to do.  Surely, $475 is not a huge cost and the info might be advantageous — at the moment I don’t know.  But I have to say one thing.tits-on-a-bullas_useless_as_tits_on_a_bull  After listening to the quibbling and squabbling on the night of the Republican debate (and yeah — I know — the Democrats can do plenty of quibbling and squabbling of their own)  it amazes me that whatever world politicians live in is so far removed from the realities of every day life that they can be the way they are and believe in their hearts that they offer a solution for the problems faced by the United States of America in 2016. They truly are as worthless as tits on a bull. By the way… you are familiar with the little birds called tits, aren’t you?


Old Diary

The Gift of Expression

“I’ve never been accused of saying too little”
– Peter Pazucha

201112111303FAMILY1130201112111302TEX101129 When Peggy and I decided to retire she was an office worker and I had my photo studio.  I had been doing weddings, some landscape work, a lot of nature photography, and humanscapes (the term I had used for the landscapes we live in — our bodies.


Most of my humanscapes were high contrast figure studies.


I have always loved black & white — so most of my figure studies were studies in the power of light.

While Peggy wanted to be out of the office, off the computer, and away from the fuss & bother, the meetings and emails, and the never ending issues of complaining employees that had become her job.

I wasn’t in quite as much of a hurry to stop creating images but I was completely in favor of Peg’s retirement.  She’d put in more than 33 years with Aurora Healthcare and we both could see that it was time for her to be gone.  The organization was on the verge of converting to a new software system that would have required her to teach and oversea her staff’s training on software she knew nothing about and that by itself was reason alone to have pulled the plug.

Our decision to become full-time RV’ers wasn’t hard to reach — Between  March when we decided and the end of September when her employment ended, we set our new course, looked at some 100 different RV’s, and found one we loved:  our 2002 Winnebago Journey DL.

Wordpress-setupI had been making images since we were married.  We took more than a few vacations with more camera gear than clothing.  Then I started blogging about images —  and other topics — about 2006 — WordPress came along in 2003 and it took me a few years to discover the tool and implement it on my own website.  Over the years I had numerous problems with WordPress hacking and finally gave up on self-hosting a blog blog — going over to WordPress.com.

Before that I had been working on a small Christian Journal.  So writing had been part of my life for a goodly long while before I started playing with the blogosphere. Gradually spending time alone with my blog and my thoughts became a regular part of life.

What I have come to realize is that I’m spending more time blogging than I am shooting. I’ve made repeat comments about not getting out my cameras and such over recent months but I guess the realization finally dawned that images aren’t as important as once they had been. I find that I’m more interested in communication — which is really just picture telling with words.

Besides, everyone’s taking pictures nowadays.  The advent of digital has changed the world of photography.  Any cheap digital camera can take great pictures.  All you have to do is snap at the right time, and focussed on the right subject. Easy Peasy.  As with many other times in my life when it’s no longer a challenge I want to move on to another challenge.

11754328_501496393350755_8208617142882693613_oI’ve been coming to this point for a while. With digital images many commercial photographers have found themselves out of business.  Weekenders can call themselves ‘photographers’ and take jobs with no business overhead.  Because they have no overhead they can ‘afford’ to bid weddings, and portraits, etc.,  for lower prices seeing as their income from a job might well be considered nothing but ‘Beer money.’  Thus it has happened that for many the bastardization of the industry has found them looking for other employment.  Also, with the InterWebs there are so many public domain images out there that for someone looking for an image to illustrate their point it’s hardly necessary to photograph anything in public sight.   For my own unique sort of work, once we made the decision to sell the house and the studio I pretty much opted myself out of continuing my work with Humanscapes — The lighting gear is essential and there’s no suitable space for a studio in a 40 foot RV.

I had a lot of fun during my employment days — shooting scenes, critters and people.  I met a lot of amazing people.  But now, nearly 4 years after retirement I think I can say I’m finally retired from photography.  Oh, I’ll still get out the gear from time to time— I hope to do that a lot this autumn and winter in New Mexico at the refuge.  But the impetus to shoot is very much different now, and I’ve finally come to realize it, and accept that. Images were my way of sharing with the world.  — Too often they were the only way I felt comfortable sharing in a world that is too noisy and filled with clamor and self-interest.  You don’t have to say a word when you show someone a photo.  And they don’t have to phrase a rebuttal.

I thought that if or when this happened I would feel badly.  But I don’t,  and a few days ago something happened that put the world of communication into clearer perspective for me.  You see, it’s a privilege to be able to communicate.  Not everyone likes to do so, not everyone wants to do so, not everyone can do so.

Since we became full time RV’ers my daughter and I have had our own private blog.  Wordpress offers “private” blogs that are not monitored by indexing robots and that are accessible only by password.  For traveling people like us, which close relationships that was ideal.  And for the two of us, that blog became a very helpful and wonderful tool for maintaining our close relationship — and also as a way of growing as communicating adults, no longer just  father and daughter.

Gradually Katy began to do more than just comment back to my posts;  she started writing her own posts where she could say what was on HER mind, not just respond to what I had been saying.  That was wonderful.  She’s a really interesting person, but I don’t know how much she realized it.  Oh there were/are still those times when her constructs drive me crazy and I wonder where she gets the idea to make up a few of the words she uses — but I’ve been watching the ever-so-slow unfolding of a beautiful flower. 2015082318254602

Just this last week she decided to try her hand at her own blog.  No, “Hey Dad, how do you do this?”  — Nope.  One day I’m sitting there reading and I see her blog on my feed.  I’m tickled to death!  She’s finding her voice.  She’s a supervisor over a mini-gang of people but now she’s finding her own voice.  Ya Hoo!  and Hot Dog!  and WoW!  I’m tickled to death.

I’m not going to post the address here.  She’s still trying to figure out what she’s going to do with her blog. Like everyone else learning something new, she deserves time to twig her purposes and set her course.  But as the traditional Communicator in the family I’m delighted to see that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  I’m happy that she’s breaking out of the shell she’s been comfortable in— something I think is a big deal for people in their 40’s.

I have long felt that our 4th decade on this earth is a time of huge change for many/most of us.  I won’t go into my theories about the teens, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and sixties.  Maybe some day,  but there’s no need to go on and on here. Not even for the guy who’s been known never to say too little.

Suffice it to say that now that Katy has entered that hallowed decade called the 40’s she’s going through the same experiences most of us transition though in our forties.   They’ve been married 25 years,  their only daughter is out of the house, has finished her education, has a serious fellow, and is living 300 miles away. At work she has taken on more responsibility. They just finished their Loft/Industrial home remodel and now for the first time there’s idle time in her life to be filled in new ways.  Yup. Plenty of changes have happened to her in the last couple years.  I look forward to a period real growth for her as she enters into a new phase in life. I look forward to hearing — in her own words — how she’s processing these things and what’s coming out the other side of the dark tunnel of personal growth.  Those changes in life work alterations in us as well, and I’m eager to see who emerges the other side of the 40’s.  It’s exciting for me.  And I’m happy for her.  It’s a gift to be able to communicate;  I’m happy that she’s wanting to try out her wings and see what she learns.

So, maybe for my own blog things may change a little.  Knowing that a good number of people who were checkout out our blog were not themselves RV’ers, I have been writing from the stand point of the what’s, where’s, when’s, why’s and how’s of becoming an RV’er. Even my non-RV’er readers have heard a good deal about what it means to be an RV’er, and a fulltime one at that. So,  whether I will retain that thrust or broaden out my focus — I don’t yet know.

I enjoy blogging.  I enjoy the interaction with a few readers.  I’ve never been one to write for the sake of building readership.  I’ve always said that this is primarily my own personal journal — and it is.  This blog is how I process the world around me.  But,  I guess that now I’m more of a blogger than a photographer.  I couldn’t care less about fashioning a post around pictures from the day — I haven’t really done that in years.  More often I have something on my mind and the pictures are just there to ease my brain along the way.  Sometimes it was the taking of a picture that got my mind started on a train of thought.  Other times the train of thought was there long time, and the image is just something that I dug up, or out to help the reader join the journey.

Well, enough about communication for today.  I’m still tickled pink about my daughter and just wanted to share her journey and mind.  Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.


Two Ways


Two Ways to Live

Old Diary

Where are the searchlights?

Excuse me in advance for a little reminiscence…

beacon at night

a small airport beacon at night… you know the sort… you see them out in the country at little airports all the time.

We were driving home (to Coon Creek Campground) on Friday night after a delicious supper and even more tantalizing stories.  Our route took us past the Shelbyville airport.  Not a large airport by any stretch of the imagination,  but oh boy did it set off a chain reaction of reminiscences.

I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, and after hearing some of the stories around the table at Angus Bailey’s resto the sight of that airport beacon just got me thinking about all sorts of other things.


Ok — so these are file photos, but they tell a story of a day gone bye…


Ok — so these are file photos, but they tell a story of a day gone bye…


Ok — so these are file photos, but they tell a story of a day gone bye…

Suddenly I was young again — 12, maybe 15 years old — on the near north side of Milwaukee with my dad.  He was going to look at a new Chevy station wagon at Hall Chevrolet.  It was probably October or November — about this time of year, and it was new model introduction time.  Some of you may not remember the days when there really were such things as ‘model years.’   When suddenly everything bright and fresh from one year became old and stale as the new model year cars were brought out in style.

Do you remember the days when searchlights roamed the sky announcing the arrival of the newest iteration of Detroit wonders.

I say “in style” because that was a different time.  In Milwaukee at that time most of the car dealerships I knew were individual buildings in the middle of a block of retail establishments and the showrooms were about big enough to fit one, possibly two automobiles.  There weren’t lots of cars on the lot — heck, there were no new car ‘LOTS’ as we know them today.  Most people I heard my dad talking about actually ordered their car and had to wait a few days, a few weeks, a month or more for the factory to build their car to specification.

And on that night I can still remember two of those old  army carbon-arc searchlights parked along the curb shining into the sky to announce the arrival of the newest model year cars.

All that from driving past a tiny little airport…

The passage of time

I’m sure that every generation goes through the same thing.  We all remember the world the way it was when we were young and there can be some degree of regret that times have changed.  Not so much for yourself as for your children, and your children’s children; all because there are experiences they will never share; experiences that meant a lot to you and me — to us — and which our children and grandchildren will not have.

Now, not all the experiences I had are times to be cherished. I did NOT like time it took to memorized multiplication tables.  But then, even today, multiplying and dividing are still simple and I don’t need a calculator.  Nor did I like the time it took to memorize the prelude to Evangeline and today I still have a few of those words roaming around in my noggin — sometimes spurting forth at the most unexpected times….“This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlock…..”  We don’t even need to talk about the really tough times; occasions that tried our souls and tested our stamina.

Our hardware store didn't look much different from this.

Our hardware store didn’t look much different from this.

When I was young (pre-kindergarten through 2nd grade I guess) my parents owned a hardware store.  It wasn’t much of a store; and with the advent of chains like True Value there came a time before 2nd grade that they had to sell the store at auction because they were losing money. (And I am told there was nothing on our pantry shelves to eat — but I honestly don’t remember any of the tough times).

In a small neighborhood store, being the only child, I spent a lot of time wandering the aisles.  There were time I’d help my parents — dad had a 40 hour a week job with Wisconsin Electric, so there were lots of times that mom manned the store by herself.  And she wasn’t above asking me to run down an aisle to get something for her that a customer couldn’t find.  As a kid I knew that store inside and out — it was almost my playground.  And the thought comes to mind… where can kids play today?  As we sat around the table last night — the 5 of us — we all had our stories of fun childhood times that simply are not available to kids any more.  Those were gentler times in spite of what people may say about statistics.  We never locked our doors, we knew all our neighbors, no one worried about whether the kids were outside playing unattended — that’s what kids did…. we spent as much time outdoors playing as we could.  And there was never anyone there to watch us for fear of being kidnapped or abused.  Heck — half the time when I was out playing beyond the age of 4 — my parents didn’t even know where I was — and all the other kid’s parents were just the same.

I’m sorry that parents have to be so careful about children today.  That’s not progress in my book.   I am sorry that kids today don’t get to enjoy the freedom of a safe world.  Many of the things I did in my youth would get my parents arrested for child abuse today — not because anyone touched me, or because I did anything wrong — but because they allowed me to go off without supervision and do what my imagination wanted.  I wasn’t policed by my parents.

I wasn’t destructive, so it wasn’t a problem — but then again I didn’t have any destructive role models to follow.  TV didn’t have murder and mayhem at that point.  The cartoons I saw were so simple that even the comic violence was clearly make-believe and no  one I knew ever really thought that the roadrunner harmed  Wiley Coyote one bit.

I’m sure my grand-kid will have her own fond memories when she’s my age — she too will remember life as it was in her youth, and regret the things she could do that her grand kids never got to do.  That’s the circle of life.  We all go through it.

That said, let me return to where I began this post;  to the story of a man and a boy and new cars on display.   it’s hard to believe that kids will never again know the innocent excitement of carbon-arc vapors tinging the air, and icy fingers of light pointing their way through the evening sky, they may never stand in a tiny showroom squeezed to the side by adults eager to get up close to that rubber and steel behemoth that just arrived in the showroom. cars The abundance of the 2000’s was unknown in the 50’s.  There were things to be bought, but you couldn’t afford them all and so  there was a lot of window shopping.  Nowadays we can go catalog shopping…. wait…. no one prints catalogs anymore.  No undried ink coloring your fingers, no smell of freshly printed catalogs.  No, today you have to let your fingers and the electrons do your shopping.  I suppose you can take your iPad out on the beach and try to leaf through the electronic catalog, but then again the glare might make it hard to read and the wind surely won’t blow your pages or the sand get stuck between the pages to fall out on the carpet 6 months later.

It’s a different world.  There were no RV’s like we have now.  I’m glad the 50’s didn’t hang around till the 2000’s.  I like what we have now.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss some of what we left behind.

Most of my time I spend looking forward to what we are doing, to where we are going.  Or going to go.  But once in a while I pass an airport.  And once in a while that beacon captures my imagination, and my brain is off on a flight of fancy to places unknown and destinations only dreamt of in the quietest times of one’s life. I like that now I have the time to let my brain take flight; to pursue some of those fancies — and just see where they might lead.

I’m enjoying the heck out of retirement.  But I’m also a person who thinks about consequences.  Everything we have today exists because of what someone before us has done.  And I wonder for my grand kid what world she and her generation will inherit.  I hope they  can look back with as much joy as I can — when her time comes.

And maybe all this is on my mind because it got down to 30-some degrees overnight and it’s only going to rise to the low 50’s; the deer are gamboling in the field; fishermen are arriving to spend one of the final pleasant Saturday’s on the water and life is good.  And when life is good I think good thoughts (well, I’m usually thinking good thoughts — I don’t have room for negativity) and smile to myself that I have lived long enough to retire (a few of my friends didn’t) and that we’re having such a ball.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.