Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Greatest Hits

When artists or authors or networks run out of ideas, what do they do? They offer up a "greatest hits" or "best of .." or "classics" or a Christmas album. So who am I to buck this trend. What follows is my 1st annual greatest hits post, not to be confused with my best of.

The easiest way to assemble a greatest hits list is to pick the most popular, which with a blog are the posts with the greatest hits. Voila. And since my top posts always appear on the right panel of each post, it's copy/paste. Somehow these are the posts that managed to strike some chord that drew in a larger community.

Top 5 Posts by popularity.

1. The Lowry Latvian DPs   This is the story of a Latvian family fleeing their country ahead the Russian advance in 1945 and their harrowing journey across the Baltic to Germany, years in a displaced persons' camp and finally coming to Lowry, Minnesota under the sponsorship of Lutheran churches in the area.

2. WWII Lowry Area Honor Roll   This is my attempt to identify all the Lowry area men and women who served in World War II.

3. GHS 1927. Absolute Zero   This post tells the story of the unbeaten and unscored upon Glenwood High School football team of 1927,

4. Minneapolis Nordeast   This post the documents a bike ride through perhaps the most interesting neighborhood of Minneapolis:  Nordeast.

5. The Bank   This post recounts the history of Lowry State Bank and its tragedies.

A different list is the "best of", which is much more subjective and impossible for me to judge. So I offer not "best" but "fav's", my personal favorites - favorites for a variety of reasons.  Truth be told those in the greatest hits are also in my favorites list.  My top 5 ..

1. Othelia's Story - 95th Evac Hospital   This is the first in a series of 8 posts documenting the WWII experiences of my wife's aunt,  army nurse Othelia Rosten, from nurses training at St. Luke's in Duluth to North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Germany and Dachau.

2.  Serendipity  This post is connected to the 95th Evac posts in a serendipitous way. It stems from a phone call I received from Wolfgang in Ebermergen, Germany who had found my account of Othelia's Story on the web and realized the 95th Evac had been encamped in Ebermergen for a time in 1945. Wolfgang realized this from the photos of Ebermergen I included in the post.

3.  How to do Lutheran.  A somewhat tongue in cheek, perhaps heretical,  look at the Lutheran Church.

4.  Immigrant Stock and My People.  My own family's immigration story and the more general story of immigration to Minnesota by thousands of others.

5.  The Tale of Two Pitchers   The story of a town ball summer when Paul Quitney of Lowry out-pitched Holloway's Jerry Koosman, who later won a World Series as a member of the 1969 NY Mets.

Well, maybe a few more ...

6.  Springtime in Minnesota   A comedy attempt - based on a true story.

7.  Philosopher For Hire  Another whack at a comedy routine.

8.  Herman & Dave's Excellent Adventure  Because I love baseball and adventuresome spirits. This is the tale of a 1929 driving trip by my great uncle and his friend Herman from Minnesota to Chicago, Cincinnati, Washington D.C., Philadelphia & New York City - to see baseball. Men after my own heart.

9.  6th Extinction.   A topic I am passionate about. Climate Crisis.

10. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.  Just kidding.

Copyright © 2019 Dave Hoplin

Thursday, August 1, 2019

A Night at the Ballpark

I attended a baseball nerd meeting recently and one of the attendees was talking about taking his novice baseball friend to a Twins game.  A hitter launched a long flyball caught on the warning track and the friend said "Well, at least he helped his batting average", to which he replied "What?". "Well, he got a hit".  So then followed an explanation that "hitting the ball" is not the same as "getting a hit".

Here is how I imagine the rest of the game ... (Tom - you will not understand a word of this.)

A "If the fielder catches the ball in the air, the batter is out."
B "Out?  He has to go out? The game just started."
A "No. An out means the batter didn't reach base. There are fly outs, ground outs, strike outs. A team gets 3 outs and then the other team bats and they get 3 outs. They do this 9 times, unless there are extra innings."
B "Extra innings?"
A "Yes. No ties in baseball and no time limit."
B  "Oh boy.  So we could be here all night."
A "Yup."
B  Ok, why didn't that batter strike at that throw?"
A "It's swing at that pitch. Because the pitch was a ball."
B "Well, I'm not that stupid. Of course it's a ball. That's what they play with."
A "No, when the pitch is outside the strike-zone, it's called a ball.  4 balls and the player walks."
B "Strike zone? Shouldn't there be picketers?  Just kidding. And walks? Like the plank?  Where does he go? "
A "First base. Maybe we should use the term base-on-balls. 4 balls and he gets first base."
B "But there's already someone there."
A "That guy goes to second base."
B "Like a merry-go-round. Wow, that was a hard hit. Why didn't he run?"
A "It was a foul ball?"
B "What, like stinky?"
A "No. If the ball lands in the stands or on the left side of the left field foul pole or the right side of the right field foul pole, it is a foul ball. If it's caught in the air the batter is out. Otherwise, it counts as a strike on the batter. Any ball hit between those foul lines is a fair ball."
 B "OK, 3 strikes and you're out even if you never strike the ball? That batter had 2 strikes so that foul is strike 3 - he's out.  I think I'm getting this."
A "No. If the batter hits a foul ball with 2 strikes, he gets another swing."
B "So it's not 3 strikes and you're out. It could be 20 strikes."
A "True."
B "There goes a long hit. It could be a Run Home. Shoot, it hit that pole. Strike one. I'm getting into this."
A "Well, ah, when the ball hits the foul pole it's a home run."
B "Run Home makes more sense. So if the ball hits the foul pole it's fair? Who made the rules for this game? ."
A "Well they claim it was Abner Doubleday but ..
B "STOP. It was a rhetorical question. Why is it called a home run?"
B "It's a home run when a batter hits the ball over they fence. He runs around all the bases and touches home plate to score the run. That's the object of baseball, to go home and be safe. Of course, there is also an inside-the-park home run.. forget I said that."
A "What the heck was was that guy doing? He just pushed the bat at the pitch.”
B "That's a bunt. He was trying to sacrifice."
A "That sounds so pagan. You told me baseball was bucolic.”
B “When a batter lays down a sacrifice bunt he expects to be out but the runner on base will advance, so he's sacrificing himself. But, he doesn’t get charged with a time at bat.”
A “So it’s like it never happened?”
B “Um, I guess, but he is out.”
A "So he's out but he never batted. This is a crazy game."
A “Oh-oh, the manager is going to the mound. Looks like he's bringing in someone from the bullpen.”
B “They keep bulls out there? Bull-fighting is illegal in this country you know. And why does the manager wear a uniform like the players. He doesn't play.  Most managers I know wear blue shirts and khakis."
A “Ok that's a lot of questions. It's called a bullpen because Bull Durham tobacco signs used to be painted on fences, so people took to calling the area "Bullpen". Relief pitchers sit out in there until the manager calls them and tells one of them to warm up, they might be going in the game. Oh, and the great manager Connie Mack always wore a suit & tie”
B “Relief pitcher? So they’re taking that poor pitcher out of the game right in front of all these people? How embarrassing for him.”
A “It happens nearly every game.  After 100 pitches or so.”
B “Wow. Batters should foul more pitches.”
A “You are catching on.  Look, the bases are loaded.”
B “Oh my goodness. Will they go off. Maybe we should leave.”
A “No.  Loaded means there are runners at every base so there’s a chance for a force play at every base and at home or possibly a Grand Slam.”
B “Ok, I understood nothing of what you just said.”
A “Well, force means when the ball is hit on the ground the runners must advance and can be put out just by touching the base they’re running to while holding the ball. A grand slam is a run home, I mean home run, with the bases loaded scoring 4 runs with 1 swing. If the ball is hit in the air and caught, the runners can tag-up and try to advance.”
B “Oy, TMI.”
A "Ouch. That batter got hit by the pitch. He gets to go to first base.  That was close to a being a bean ball. We might just have a rhubarb brewing?
B "So if a batter gets hit by a pitch he gets to go to first? Why don't they just let the ball hit them?
A "You know how hard a baseball is, right? Imagine it hitting you at 90 mph. Not something you want to happen. "
B "What do you mean by bean ball?"
A "A pitch coming right at your head, your bean. Surprisingly, only one Major League player, Ray Chapman has died from being beaned. That was 1920, before the days of helmets."
B "That's terrible. No helmets?"
B "Do you want me to go to concessions and get you that rhubarb beer now? Sounds awful by the way."
A "Ah, a rhubarb is .. never mind." The second baseman just booted that grounder."
B "Booted? This is baseball not football. Anyway, that's a hit, right?"
A "Booted is just an expression meaning he goofed up. It's an error. It's counted as an at bat, the same as an out."
B "Oh boy, I'm getting more and more confused."
B “Hey, the umpire just called that batter out and the ball is still in the air. What if he would have dropped it? For an error - heh, heh.”
A “Well, if there are runners on 1st and 2nd or the bases are loaded ... just a sec.”

A “Hey Siri. Please explain the infield fly rule.”

Copyright © 2019 Dave Hoplin

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Docs: Gibbon & McIver

The small town of Lowry in the first half of the 20th century was blessed with two incredibly skilled physicians who were also marvelous human beings. I was born after this golden era of Lowry doctors but whenever I have heard any remembrances of these men, it was with a tone of reverence. These doctors were clearly special people with an exceptional level of dedication to the people of Lowry and surrounding area.  Their careers just barely overlapped. Both became known as "The Doc".

Dr. Luther Llewellyn Gibbon 1875-1930

I know Doc Gibbon was a wonderful person if only because my grandmother gave her 3rd son his middle name, a Welsh name no less, (Donald Llewellyn Hoplin), an indication that next to God his standing with her.

The picture at left of Doc Gibbon is illustrative of the lengths he was known to go to reach his patients. Perhaps the earliest snowmobile ever created. (I have a feeling Martin Holden might have had a hand in this.)

Dr. L.L. (Luther Llewelyn) Gibbon, a beloved local physician, came to Lowry in 1897. Doc Gibbon graduated from the University of Minnesota, College of Medicine and Surgery in 1896 and practiced in Lowry from 1897 to his death in 1930. Doc Gibbon served as a surgeon in the medical corps in France in WWI. His surgery skills were so renowned that Starbuck Hospital where he did his surgeries, drew patients from as far as South Dakota. When Doc Gibbon died suddenly of a stroke in 1930, just as the Great Depression was making for difficult times, his wife Anna, "allowed" my grandfather to buy Doc's old mammoth Hudson for $400. I am told that that vehicle was never driven in in the 30's. Cost prohibitive.

From the 1908 Minnesota Who's Who:
GIBBON, Luther, physician; born at Norwood, N. Y., March 29. 1875; son of Alfred Henry and Mary Jane (Gant) Gibbon: came to Minnesota. 1882; educated in public schools of Minneapolis: Minneapolis Academy; University of Minnesota. College of Medicine and Surgery, graduating, degree of M.D., 1896. In practice at Lowry since Nov. 8, 1897. Unmarried. Address: Lowry, Minn. 
[Editor note: Dr. Gibbon married Anna about 1912]

Dr. Bert McIver 

Doctor Bert McIver was the second beloved physician that blessed the little town of Lowry.

Author note: The following account includes excerpts from an article by Teri Blair that appeared in the Pope County Tribune in Nov 2007 and previously in the Senior Perspective. (see attachment below)

Doc McIver, as he was known, grew up wanting to be a farmer, but became a country doctor. In the mid-20th century, "country doctors used to be the norm in small towns, physicians who worked with a black bag that carried medicine, stethoscope and gauze.  They made trips to homes, kept office hours, and treated the medical needs of their rural communities - from delivering a baby to a heart attack to a farm accident, all with limited supplies, limiting transportation and little sleep."

His sister Margaret urged him to go to med school and he was in a pre-med program when WWI called. He served in the medical corps on the front lines. His son Dan remembers, "Dad always said it was in France where he received his real medical training. He became astute at sewing people up after they had been wounded.  It turned out to be one of his trademarks as a doctor in Minnesota. His work didn't leave scars."

After the war, he completed his medical degree at the U of M and had a fellowship to study surgery there. In the summer of 1930, he worked with Doc Gibbon in the Lowry Clinic, planning to return to school in the fall. Doc Gibbon died that summer from a sudden stroke and community begged Bert to stay.  Again his son Dan: "He never got to go the University to become a surgeon. He never talked about it, we never heard one complaint. But I'm sure he thought about it."

Doc McIver was an innovative physician using treatments far ahead of standard practice. From arthritis treatments to the use of antibiotics and an office that included an x-ray technician, his clinic would see up to 100 patients a day - and then deal with emergencies in the dead of night. In winter he would use a sleigh.

Gospel Hall ~1935 Dr. Bert in back in suit & tie
Doctor Bert was a man of faith, a member of the Plymouth Brethren Congregation in Lowry. He often would etch a cross in the corner of a prescription saying "this is what you really need."  Tragically, in the early 50's Doc McIver contracted ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and passed away in 1953. 

After the death of Doc McIver, the clinic stood empty for awhile, but it reopened with part-time visits by Glenwood doctors, Gordon Lee & Robert Letson
.  I always knew when it was Doctor Lee's rotation as he drove a classic '55 Thunderbird.  I would surreptitiously drool over that car parked behind the clinic.  I also remember his less than gentle approach to injections.

Other doctors that served the small town. (Note; I may have missed someone)

Dr. Maynard Nelson
Dr. Nelson enlisted on December 7, 1941 and served through WWII in the medical corp. After the war he worked for a time with Doc McIver at the Lowry Clinic.

Dr Beaumont Cyril Hiram Hagebak
Dr. Hagebek was the first dentist in Lowry sharing the clinic with Dr. Gibbon & Dr. McIver from 1929 to 1941, but beyond that I know not.

Dr. Lawrence Wright
Doc Wright was also a dentist and practiced in Lowry in the mid-fifties. I remember him best as the manager of the Lowry Leghorn baseball team, the slow grinding of the drill receding from my memory.

Dr. Bruce Jarvis

Dr. Matthew Plasha

Author note: For 50+ years Doc Gibbon & Doc McIver impacted the lives of virtually everyone in Lowry and the surrounding area. As stated, they were revered. I did not personally know these men so my story is lacking. I am hoping that some readers might contribute personal memories (or 2nd hand memories) of these doctors.  Please add comments below or email me and I will update this post with your memories. Thanks in advance.

Devotion was of course not limited to men.  Doc Gibbon's wife Anna was his nurse.  Doc McIver's sister Eleanor was his x-ray technician.

Copyright © 2019 Dave Hoplin

Addendum.  2007 Pope County Tribune article

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Carnegie Dichotomy

With a good friend, I like to do "theme" bicycle rides around the Twin Cities: parks, churches, monuments, mansions, breweries .. you get the idea.  It's good to have a goal to keep you moving.

The latest target was a visit to all of the remaining Carnegie Libraries in Minneapolis/St. Paul.  From 1906-1914, 8 libraries in the Twin Cities were built with grants from the Andrew Carnegie Corporation. One (Central Avenue) was demolished in the 1970's. Another no longer functions as a public library (Arlington Hills).

In Minnesota, 65 Carnegie Libraries were constructed between 1901-1918, 48 still stand with 25 still operating as a public library.

Twin Cities' Carnegie Libraries
Sumner Library - North Mpls

Franklin Library - Midtown Mpls

Hosmer Library (under renovation) - South Mpls

St. Anthony Library - St Paul

Giddens Library - Hamline University

Arlington Hills (now a Hmong Center) - St. Paul

Riverview Library - St. Paul

The libraries were all constructed with a similar rectangular design.  Most have had renovations/additions over the years but like a Frank Lloyd Wright design, they are all recognizable as "Carnegies".

Andrew Carnegie was the first noted "Captain of Industry" to espouse the doctrine that the wealthy have a moral obligation to give away their fortunes, a practice being adopted by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates (see: Carnegie's Gospel of Wealth). At the age of 66, he dedicated his life to giving away his wealth. From 1901 to his death in 1919, Carnegie gave away $350,000,000, roughly of $5B in today's dollars and 90% of his wealth.  His philanthropy particularly targeted education, funding that included some 3000 public libraries world-wide.  Pittsburgh's Carnegie-Mellon University bears his name. And of course, the arts. You might have heard of Carnegie Hall.

Andrew Carnegie's empire was based on steel, Carnegie Steel being the forerunner of US Steel, operating under his lead from the 1870s to 1901, when he sold the operation to J.P. Morgan for $492M (roughly $15B in today's dollars). He introduced modern approaches to steel production - vertical integration of raw material to end products, open hearth furnaces, ... developing processes that made steel strong enough for skyscrapers and weapons. The sale made Carnegie one of the richest men to have ever lived.  However, before his philanthropy epiphany, he was a ruthless businessman, putting down strikers (see Homestead Strike) and exploiting his immigrant workforce and destroying his competitors.  He was clearly a member "Robber Barons",  a term coined during the Gilded Age to both disparage and admire the fabulously wealthy.  "Baron" is a title of nobility, as in a MP of the House of Lords. "Robber" casts aspersion as to how the fabulous wealth was acquired. Exploitation of the working class, government subsidies and tax preferences, price fixing, monopolies, suppression of competition and labor unions were the soft commodities of wealth,  generously enhancing the profit from the hard commodities: oil, steel, coal, railroads and finance.
Note: John D. Rockefeller (oil), J.P. Morgan (finance), James J. Hill (railroads), Cornelius Vanderbilt (railroads/shipping).... and Andrew Carnegie (steel) are the most famous of the group.

When the wealthy are asked "how much is enough?", commonly it is .. "just a little bit more".  But Carnegie is remembered as a philanthropist. I suspect many have no idea how he made his money.  Today's disparities between wealthy and the average Joe exceed even the Robber Baron era (see Forbes: 3 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 50%).

Would that Andrew Carnegie's epiphany replicate to today.

Copyright © 2019 Dave Hoplin

Addendum: Not Twin Cities but another of the 25 operating Minnesota Carnegie Libraries.
Glenwood, Minnesota Library

Sunday, June 30, 2019

A Hot War

I lived the first 40 odd years of my life under the specter of "mutually assured destruction".  It was called the Cold War and began shortly after the end of WWII. USA vs USSR and the key element in the faceoff was not over a hockey puck, it was nuclear weapons.  Russia developed the bomb in 1947 and thus began decades of the "Red Scare". Each country kept adding to their arsenal to assure that a first strike by one nation could be countered by the other and "mutual destruction" would result. In the 50's, home construction often included a "bomb shelter" stocked with water and canned goods. Schools routinely conducted "duck and cover" drills where students would crouch under their desks with their hands protecting their heads. 

There was even a "Doomsday Clock" produced by US atomic scientists that measured the time remaining on a 24 hour scale to the end of the world. In 1953, at the end of the Stalinist regime, it measured 2 minutes to midnight.  In 1991, after Gorbachev's "glasnost" and "peristroika", USSR's openness movement and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the clock retreated to 17 minutes to midnight.  

Today the clock stands again at 2 minutes to midnight.   The reason is not (only) nuclear threat but the existential threat of climate change. We are in a "Hot War" and the enemy is Climate Change. And the "mutually assured destruction" is no longer mutual. (Author note: I am not going to argue with you whether Climate Change is real or not. That has been established. "Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.") - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

I listened to the news coming from the G20 Summit in Osaka this week with trepidation. 

".. the communique eventually agreed at the conclusion of the two-day gathering in Osaka repeated earlier commitments by 19 of the G20 members to the “irreversibility” of the Paris accord and its full implementation."  The Independent 6/28/19  [Author note: The only G20 nation not to sign is the USA]

The communique on Climate Change received the support of 19 of the 20 nations for the Paris Accord. This accord creates a framework for a global response to climate change with the goal of "keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels".  2 degrees, so what? Read about the consequences of just a 1/2 degree rise.

President Trump told reporters during a press conference Saturday morning that he is not ignoring the threat of the climate crisis, but he doesn't want to take action to confront the emergency because such a move would threaten corporate profits. ... "So we have the best numbers that we've ever had recently," Trump said. "I'm not looking to put our companies out of business."

Donald Trump has again dismissed the need to tackle climate change by saying the US has the cleanest air and water “ever”. [The Independent].   [Author note:  EPA standards for clean air/water do not correspond to climate change, and furthermore, the EPA has been gutted under the Trump Administration]

The US president dismisses a government climate report and says that other countries need to clean up more than the US does.  [BBC] [Author note: This is a global problem and requires a coordinated global response. It is not a contest.]

During WWII the US recognized that a race with Germany to develop an atomic bomb had to be won and in response to this crisis, initiated a massive engineering project to do it - The Manhattan Project.  This Climate Change crisis demands no less.

A United Nations study reaffirms the seriousness of this crisis.  It is not a "problem", it is a crisis. The time to act before the effects are irreversible is short. 

"Just over a decade is all that remains to stop irreversible damage from climate change, world leaders heard today as the General Assembly opened a high‑level meeting on the relationship between the phenomenon and sustainable development." 

The consequences of "doing nothing" do not bear thinking about.

A NASA Report

  • Global Temperature Change.  
  • Warming Oceans
  • Shrinking Ice Sheet
  • Glacial Retreat
  • Decreased Snow Cover
  • Rising Sea Levels
  • Arctic Sea Ice
  • Extreme Events

Hence, headlines:

  1. Chennai, India, a city of 9 million, is running out of water, a harbinger of the future for the Indian sub-continent. If monsoon rains fail to appear (again), the city will be uninhabitable. The only backup plan is to leave the city.  Together with rising sea levels, we can expect a future climate change refugee problem dwarfing the current war refugee exodus. (Star Tribune 29June2019 edition)
  2. France hits record 115°F. (Star Tribune 29June2019 edition) Of course weather is not the same as climate. But the unprecedented arctic melt is affecting the jet stream, distorting it into a "wavy" form that is the cause of both massive heat waves and brutal cold waves.
  3. Global sea level rose about 8 inches in the last century. The rate in the last two decades, however, is nearly double that of the last century and is accelerating slightly every year. About 40% of world's population live within 60 miles of a coast,  mainly in large cities, generally at the mouth of a large river. It is estimated that in this century, up to 2 billion people will become climate change refugees, having to abandon their coastal homes. (Science Daily)
  4. Tornadoes have been popping up every day in the U.S. as if coming off an assembly line. They’re part of an explosion of extreme weather events, including record floodingrecord cold and record heat ... [Washington Post]  Since Jan 2018 there have been 16 separate billion dollar weather and climate disasters. [NOAA]  from hurricanes , wildfires, tornadoes, floods and even a Colorado hail storm.  In 1980 - 3. 1981 - 2. 1982 - 5.  1983 - 3. 1984 - 2.  1985 - 5 ...
  5. ... and there are many, many more

Don't take my word for it. 

Pope Francis warned that “history will judge” a lack of action on climate change and urged doubters to talk to scientists who study the issue.  

Frankly, I'm not optimistic that the crisis will be addressed before it is too late. Over 70% of Americans accept that the climate change is "man-made", but few would pay as much as $10/month to address it. I fear that by the time consensus is reached the clock will have run out.  

Unfortunately, unless everyone cooperates, you can do little individually to impact climate.  Reduce your carbon footprint, reduce your energy use, eat less meat, ride your bicycle to work, ...  But in the end it boils down to political will. You can urge your favorite politician to support action.  For me, this is the issue that will determine how I vote in 2020.

Who will be the sufferers?  Likely, not you dear reader, unless you are living in Miami,  but ...

Your children and grandchildren are watching.

Copyright © 2019 Dave Hoplin

See also my post: 6th Extinction)

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Backyard Wonders

An epiphany of awareness? A growing appreciation of the simpler things?  Awe in the face of the wonder of nature?  Or, perhaps .. my dotage.

Whatever the cause, this Spring I am enjoying birds more than ever. I find myself checking the woods behind us early in the morning and whenever I pass by the north windows. And I have become unwilling to go out into the backyard when birds are present to avoid interrupting the wonder, behavior that seems to offer encouragement to the weeds.

This new found passion has been triggered by a rare bonanza of colorful specimens in our backyard this year. Birds both common and rarely seen in thrilling, raucous color. Tanagers, Orioles, Bunting, Bluebird, Cardinal, Grosbeak, Hummingbirds, Woodpeckers, Cowbird, Catbird, Chickadee, Nuthatch, Robin, Junco, Finch, Warbler, Wren, Mourning Dove, multiple flavors of Sparrow & Blackbird ... as well as the predators: Eagle, Hawk, Owl ... and the loud, nuisance guys: Blue Jay, Grackle, Crow, Turkey.

But, alas, the most colorful of these are in their migratory path, just stopping by to refuel.  We will soon be back to the normals, but it is fun while it lasts.






Dinner date

Most photos (the good ones) courtesy of daughter Sarah, who has the good camera and the skill to operate it. I did furnish the backyard.


I was reprimanded for the male dominated photos, although I did include 2 pairs and a turkey hen. But here's a couple more to balance things out.

Tanager pair


Copyright © 2019 Dave Hoplin

Monday, May 6, 2019


Grandma wearing the white hat
My grandmother was a saint (see Esther post). When it came to personal conduct, she was a Biblical strict constructionist. She objected to King James' translation of the Greek κρασί as "wine" when of course it should have been "juice of the grape".  She held no brief with activist translators.


Demon rum, a placeholder for any ingested alcohol, was viewed as a home wrecker and led inevitably to abandonment of family (drinkers were always referred to in masculine gender), loss of a job and days drinking from a paper bag. But, thanks in part to grandma, a WCTU hall-of-famer, Pope County was one of the last holdouts as a "dry" county.  3.2 beer was all you could get a Dave's Tavern. Of course, Kensington & Forada in wet Douglas County weren't that far away. Grandma's anti-booze activity helped keep Pope Country dry longer than most any in the state and she conscripted me into the fight, delivering VOTE NO flyers all over town every time the issue reached the ballot. (see WCTU post).

As a young boy, I once gleefully declared in Grandma's presence, "we have beer in our fridge".  My father scowled at me and I never discovered the subsequent interaction with his mother.  As I remember it, I then realized I had turned informant in Grandma's web.

So I lived in mortal fear that if I did not resist the temptation*, I would end up with a daily bottle of Ripple slurped from a brown paper bag and sleeping in a doorway on Washington Ave. And so I missed out on all the high school keggers. No regrets there however. I eventually overcame my paranoia but I still apologize to Grandma when I have my infrequent beer.

Taking the Lord's Name in Vain

Oh my. To utter an oath. Have you ever had your mouth washed out with soap?  This sin is clearly documented in the 10 commandments so woe unto you. When my grandson was 2, he was playing cars with grandma and offered up, "Dammit grandma, crash me". My wife to her son,"He knows 4 words and one of them is "damn"? The other grandfather got the blame :-). I confess to have transgressed here more than a few times.


I wonder if my apple/rhubarb/strawberry stealing offenses will appear on my ledger. Of course, this is also a "thou shalt not .." so any such activity is indefensible. I once took a rubber baseball from the hardware store without paying, promising myself to return with the quarter. Not sure if I kept that promise. Interestingly, this sticks in my memory as a mortal sin. I think that ball is still somewhere in Hank Brandt's garden. (see Big Time Tales post)


Kick a dog, punch a kid, make fun of someone's disability.  Bullying. These offenses demand punishment and shame. No excuses.


Clearly a serious violation. And unless you are well practiced, your body language makes your mendaciousness obvious. But it is an ethical conundrum when the telling of the truth will cause unnecessary pain to the hearer. "Wasn't that a wonderful band concert?" You've been there I am quite sure. Truth avoidance or partial truth in your own interest is a deception that is perhaps worse than the outright lie.  "Have you been smoking?"  "Well, there were some other people I was with who were smoking." Not really a lie, but ...


Smoking is glamorous say the tobacco companies and old movies. But truly, it is a filthy habit with an added negative of health endangerment, not only to yourself but by second hand assaults. And now we have vaping. Indecent pursuit of profit. Veterans get a pass as long as you take your cigar outside. The military has been complicit in nicotine addiction. I confess I have been an experimental smoker (see Mischief and Adventure post). I smoked/coughed as a 12 year old down the old road and smoked a cigar upon graduating from college - to my great regret, nearly falling down the stairs from dizziness. And I tried to smoke a pipe in grad school to look "professorial" but gave that up as a lost cause. Never since.


When you think of biblical characters dancing, you think Salome and you know how that turned out. I have made attempts although to call it dancing might be a stretch. But dancing leads to alcohol consumption (see above) and then to close contact, which takes the transgression register into the red zone. A grandma rule: "nothing good happens after midnight".


a.k.a.  Rumor mongering, speaking ill of another, ...  I've often wondered if "Sewing Circles" and "Ladies Aid" might not have been dens of iniquity. Gossip involving the preacher was especially hard to resist. But reading Lydia Bjorklund's Lowry News (see Lowry News post) or "rubbering" on the party line was OK. [Every phone on a party line would ring so you could listen in if you wanted and if you dropped the receiver into a stone crock the echoed speech would free up your hands to continue what you were doing.] (see Party Line post).


e.g. Sleeping in on Saturday morning. Late Saturday slumber generally meant you were out to all hours on Friday night (see Dancing above) and next week your penance is arising on Saturday at 7 AM to pick rocks.

Card playing

Card playing generally involves gambling, which leads to debt and usually involves smoking and drink (see above). An exception can be made for playing UNO with your grandchildren, although I can't recall grandma every invoking such an exception.

Skipping Church

Only a deathbed illness is a reasonable excuse for missing church. And if the reason is is golfing, a prayer at each of the 18 stations might be in order. Heading to a baseball or football game bumps the degree of sin up several levels. And if the skip is sleeping in due to a late Saturday night, it is significantly worse than the Friday offense (see Sloth above). My mother once used "too windy" as an excuse. But I had to go to Sunday School. If you're on the casino bus, you are probably beyond redemption. (see Card Playing above)

Going to School in Improper Attire

No belt or an untucked shirt = James Dean on the loose. Wearing slacks or skirts above the knee. I will not try to explain the rules of those times.

Kissing in Public

Or private for that matter.

Outhouse Tipping

This is only relevant for fewer and fewer of us.

Open Mic

Add yours to the list. Confession is good for the soul.

*Oscar Wilde is credited with this. "I can resist anything ... except temptation".

Copyright © 2019 Dave Hoplin